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Natural Killer Cells

Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphoid cells poised and ready to assist in the destruction of virally infected cells and tumor cells from the body. NK cells are part of the innate immune system and mediate their effect in an antigen-independent manner that, in general, does not give rise to immunological memory or long-term protective immunity. NK cells are characterized by the expression of CD56 (both high and low levels) and the KIR family receptors in humans, and CD49b (DX5) and Ly-49 family members in mice.