CD160 is a 27 kDa glycoprotein which was initially identified with the monoclonal antibody BY55. Its expression is tightly associated with peripheral blood NK cells and CD8 T lymphocytes with cytolytic effector activity. The cDNA sequence of CD160 predicts a cysteine-rich, glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored protein of 181 amino acids with a single Ig-like domain weakly homologous to KIR2DL4 molecule. CD160 is expressed at the cell surface as a tightly disulfide-linked multimer. RNA blot analysis revealed CD160 mRNAs of 1.5 and 1.6 kb whose expression was highly restricted to circulating NK and T cells, spleen and small intestine. Within NK cells CD160 is expressed by CD56dimCD16+ cells whereas among circulating T cells its expression is mainly restricted to TCRgd bearing cells and to TCRab+CD8brightCD95+CD56+CD28-CD27-cells. In tissues, CD160 is expressed on all intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes. CD160 shows a broad specificity for binding to both classical and nonclassical MHC class I molecules.
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