Enhanced NK cell development and function in BCAP-deficient mice.
In B lymphocytes, the B-cell adaptor for phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (BCAP) facilitates signaling from the antigen receptor. Mice lacking BCAP have a predominantly immature pool of B cells with impaired immune function and increased susceptibility to apoptosis. Unexpectedly, we have found that natural killer (NK) cells from BCAP-deficient mice are more mature, more long-lived, more resistant to apoptosis, and exhibit enhanced functional activity compared with NK cells from wild-type mice. Surprisingly, these effects are evident despite a severe impairment of the immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif-mediated Akt signaling pathway. The seemingly paradoxical phenotype reveals inherent differences in the signals controlling the final maturation of B cells and NK cells, which depend on positive and negative signals, respectively. Both enhanced interferon-gamma responses and augmented maturation of NK cells in BCAP-deficient mice are independent of available MHC class I ligands. Our data support a model in which blunting of BCAP-mediated activation signaling in developing NK cells promotes functionality, terminal maturation, and long-term survival.