DAP10 and DAP12 form distinct, but functionally cooperative, receptor complexes in natural killer cells.
Many of the activating receptors on natural killer (NK) cells are multisubunit complexes composed of ligand-binding receptors that are noncovalently associated with membrane-bound signaling adaptor proteins, including CD3zeta, FcstraightepsilonRIgamma, DAP12, and DAP10. Because the DAP10 and DAP12 genes are closely linked, expressed in NK cells, and have remarkably similar transmembrane segments, it was of interest to determine the specificity of their interactions with ligand-binding receptors and to examine their signaling properties. Despite their similarities, DAP10, DAP12, FcstraightepsilonRIgamma, and CD3zeta form specific receptor complexes with their ligand-binding partners in NK cells and transfectants. The transmembrane regions of DAP10 and DAP12 are sufficient to confer specific association with their partners. Although cross-linking of either DAP10- or DAP12-associated receptors has been shown to be sufficient to trigger NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity against Fc receptor-bearing cells, substantial synergy was observed in the induction of cytokine production when both receptors were engaged. Activation of the Syk/ZAP70 tyrosine kinases by the immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif-containing DAP12 adaptor and of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathway by the YxNM-containing DAP10 adaptor may play an important role in the stimulation of NK cells and T cells.