Natural Killer Cells Interrogate Tumor Cells

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Submitted by Yvonne J. Yamanaka of the Love Lab at the Koch Institute

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Yvonne J. Yamanaka
Love Lab, Koch Institute
Epi-Fluorescence Micrograph

"This image shows human natural killer (NK) cells (blue) interrogating tumor cells (red). The cells are loaded on an array of 30 µm x 30 µm x 30 µm microwells. In this image 144 microwells are visible; the entire 3” x 1” array contains 248,832 microwells. 

NK cells are immune cells that can recognize tumor cells and respond by killing the cell and secreting cytokines. We are interested in studying the cell-to-cell variation in functional ability of NK cells. Towards this end, we isolate individual NK cells in microwells with tumor cells (as shown in this image) and then measure what cytokines each NK cell secretes, as well as whether or not it is able to kill the tumor cell. On a single array we can examine thousands of NK cell – tumor cell pairs, and thus build a functional profile of the NK cell population with single-cell resolution."