Much of current immunology research in is founded on enormous data sets, complex interactions, and computer modeling - tackling the microbiome or the origins of autoimmune disease, for example. Fundamental discoveries can seem few and far between amidst Big Data (data sets of size and complexity that computers are required for analysis, ‘-omics (proteomics, genomics, … Continue reading Location Location Location – T cell receptor placement makes or breaks immune response speed!
T cell receptors are required for the activation, regulation, and function of T cells. TCRs are generated by the random joining of gene segments in the TCR gene loci. TCR assembly occurs through a process called V(D)J recombination, so named for the gene segments joined to make the β–chain of the TCR and the heavy … Continue reading How-to make: a T cell receptor (the simpler version)
Central Tolerance Central tolerance refers to the negative selection step in T cell differentiation. It occurs in the thymus, where newly recombined T cell receptors are screened against a bevy of self-antigens and overactive clones are deleted. See Positive and Negative Selection of T Cells. Clonal Deletion - T cells that recombine a TCR with a … Continue reading Regulating “self” versus “non-self” – T cell tolerance mechanisms
Autoimmunity is a blanket term describing pathologies where the immune system attacks its host body. The typical paradigm is that the immune system protects us from foreign invaders- pathogens looking for a niche to colonize. In autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes our body’s tissues for a target- and harms them. Whether due to a … Continue reading Friendly Fire – an introduction to autoimmune disease
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes code for proteins which the immune system uses to identify cells and tissues in the body as “self” or “other”. MHC molecules ‘talk’ to T cells which patrol the body for foreign invaders or dangerously mutated cells. The MHC acts as a window into our cells. It presents snippets … Continue reading What is MHC and why does it matter?
Zika virus (ZIKV) has emerged as a significant human health threat in the last 5 years. Zika virus is associated with (and may cause) microencephaly and neurological deficits in infants, with unknown long-term consequences for adults. In late 2015 there was a spike in ZIKV infections in South America. Initially, the surge was blamed on … Continue reading Mosquito spit gives Zika virus an infectious edge
The human immune system (and those of most mammals) is composed of physical barriers (skin and mucus), innate and adaptive cells, chemical messengers (cytokines), and primary and secondary lymphoid tissue. Primary lymphoid tissue includes the bone marrow and the thymus. Immune cell progenitors arise in the bone marrow, along with red blood cells and platelets … Continue reading Organs of the immune system