To explore how the immune system controls clearance of SARS-CoV-2, we used a single-cell, mass cytometry-based proteomics platform to profile the immune systems of 21 patients who had recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection without need for admission to an intensive care unit or for mechanical ventilation. We focused on receptors involved in interactions between immune cells and virus-infected cells. We found that the diversity of receptor repertoires on natural killer (NK) cells was negatively correlated with the viral clearance rate. In addition, NK subsets expressing the receptor DNAM1 were increased in patients who more rapidly recovered from infection. Ex vivo functional studies revealed that NK subpopulations with high DNAM1 expression had cytolytic activities in response to target cell stimulation. We also found that SARS-CoV-2 infection induced the expression of CD155 and nectin-4, ligands of DNAM1 and its paired coinhibitory receptor TIGIT, which counterbalanced the cytolytic activities of NK cells. Collectively, our results link the cytolytic immune responses of NK cells to the clearance of SARS-CoV-2 and show that the DNAM1 pathway modulates host-pathogen interactions during SARS-CoV-2 infection.
View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI146408
View details for PubMedID 34720095