Epithelial cells remove precancerous cells by cell competition via MHC class I–LILRB3 interaction

Shiyu Ayukawa, Nagisa Kamoshita, Jun Nakayama, Ryohei Teramoto, Novalia Pishesha, Kenji Ohba, Nanami Sato, Kei Kozawa, Hikari Abe, Kentaro Semba, Nobuhito Goda, Yasuyuki Fujita, Takeshi Maruyama*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Epithelial cells have an ability termed ‘cell competition’, which is an immune surveillance-like function that extrudes precancerous cells from the epithelial layer, leading to apoptosis and clearance. However, it remains unclear how epithelial cells recognize and extrude transformed cells. Here, we discovered that a PirB family protein, leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptor B3 (LILRB3), which is expressed on non-transformed epithelial cells, recognizes major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC class I) that is highly expressed on transformed cells. MHC class I interaction with LILRB3 expressed on normal epithelial cells triggers an SHP2–ROCK2 pathway that generates a mechanical force to extrude transformed cells. Removal of transformed cells occurs independently of natural killer (NK) cell or CD8+ cytotoxic T cell-mediated activity. This is a new mechanism in that the immunological ligand–receptor system generates a mechanical force in non-immune epithelial cells to extrude precancerous cells in the same epithelial layer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1391-1402
Number of pages12
JournalNature Immunology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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