Scientists uncover two micro mechanisms that regulate immune system

A Keck Medicine of USC-led team of microbiologists has identified previously unknown interactions between critical proteins in the human immune response system, uncovering two independent regulatory mechanisms that keep the body's immune response in check. Their findings appear in the February 2014 edition of Cell Host & Microbe, the top peer-reviewed scientific journal that focuses on the study of cell-pathogen interaction.

"The body's response to infection consists of a complex network of biological processes set off by the intrusion of disease-causing microbes," said Qiming Liang, Ph.D., USC post-doctoral fellow and study co-author. "This is a powerful response that needs precise regulation to ensure that the host body is not harmed after the pathogen is destroyed."

For this reason, the authors suggest that it is just as important to know what stops the body's as what activates it. Scientists do not yet fully understand this regulatory mechanism and continue to study it in hopes of harnessing its power to cure disease.

"We report that the direct interaction between the cGAS DNA sensor and the Beclin-1 autophagy protein shapes innate immune responses by regulating both the production of the cGAMP molecule and the process that destructs the microbial DNA," said Gil Ju Seo, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow and study co-author. "This is significant because the cGAMP molecule signals the production of inflammatory cytokines, which kill viruses and bacteria but can also harm the body if uncontrolled."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

When DNA is out of place

Jun 04, 2013

When DNA that turns up in the wrong place in mammalian cells, the innate immune system reacts by secreting interferons. The structure and mode of action of the enzyme that mediates this response have now been elucidated.

Recommended for you

How Staph infections elude the immune system

Oct 27, 2014

A potentially lethal bacterium protects itself by causing immune tunnel vision, according to a study from scientists at The University of Chicago published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine. By tri ...

Research reveals how lymph nodes expand during disease

Oct 22, 2014

Cancer Research UK and UCL scientists have discovered that the same specialised immune cells that patrol the body and spot infections also trigger the expansion of immune organs called lymph nodes, according to a study published ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.