Natural killer (NK) cells are effector lymphocytes of the innate immune system that are known for their ability to kill transformed and virus-infected cells. NK cells originate from hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow, and studies on mouse models have revealed that NK cell development is a complex, yet tightly regulated process, which is dependent on both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. The development of NK cells can be broadly categorized into two phases: lineage commitment and maturation. Efforts to better define the developmental framework of NK cells have led to the identification of several murine NK progenitor populations and mature NK cell subsets, each defined by a varied set of cell surface markers. Nevertheless, the relationship between some of these NK cell subsets remains to be determined.
NK cell; transcription factors
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