Final Report Summary - THINK (The Immune function of NK cells)
THINK was an interdisciplinary project aiming at investigating the biology of Natural Killer (NK) cells from nanoscopic to macroscopic scales. This program allowed us to dissect the mechanisms by which NK cells acquire their effector function. Building on a knock-in mouse platform, we could identify 11 critical elements in these processes, substantially completing the knowledge in this area of research. We could also show that NK cells seem to be dispensable for vaccination, and that NK cells and ILCs are dispensable for immune protection in mice and humans when T and B cells functions are preserved, paving the way for new therapeutic interventions. Finally, many of these findings were instrumental to propose a novel theoretical framework that describes and predicts immune responses, referred as to the Discontinuity Theory of Immunity.