Researchers find mechanism for precise targeting of the immune response

October 13, 2017, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
A space-filling model of the solved protein complex responsible for the selection of antigens. Credit: AG Tampé

The immune system checks the health of cells by examining a kind of molecular passport. Sometimes, cells present the wrong passport, which can lead to autoimmune diseases, chronic inflammations or cancer. Scientists of the Goethe University Frankfurt explain the process how this happens in the new issue of the journal Science.

Most provide the T cells of the adaptive immune system with information about their condition by presenting selected components of their interior (called antigens) on their surface. If these components include fragments of viruses or altered cell components, the affected cell is eliminated. The selection of the antigens is essential in this process. Presenting the wrong antigens leads either to healthy cells being attacked by the immune system, causing or chronic inflammation, or diseased cells are not recognized, enabling cancer cells or virus-infected cells to escape immune surveillance.

Dr. Christoph Thomas and Prof. Robert Tampé from the Institute of Biochemistry at Goethe University have now solved on a molecular level how antigens are selected in the cell for presentation on the cell surface. Their structural biology study shows for the first time the kind of quality control antigens undergo to enable a precise and effective .

"Our work solves a 30-year-old problem of cellular immunity, in particular how antigens associated with tumors or pathogens are selected through processes of editing and quality control in order to generate a ," explains Prof. Robert Tampé the significance of the publication.

Explore further: Team finds another immune system link science said didn't exist

More information: "Structure of the TAPBPR–MHC I complex defines the mechanism of peptide loading and editing" Science (2017). … 1126/science.aao6001

"Crystal structure of a TAPBPR–MHC-I complex reveals the mechanism of peptide editing in antigen presentation" Science (2017). … 1126/science.aao5154

Related Stories

Team finds another immune system link science said didn't exist

March 23, 2017
The University of Virginia School of Medicine has again shown that a part of the body thought to be disconnected from the immune system actually interacts with it, and that discovery helps explain cases of male infertility, ...

Scientists identify factor that may trigger type 1 diabetes

February 11, 2016
A team of researchers, led by investigators at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, have identified a new class of antigens that may be a contributing factor to type 1 diabetes, according to an article published ...

Study unveils T cell signaling process central to immune response

May 16, 2017
The immune system cells known as T cells play a central role in the body's ability to fight infections and cancer. For decades, however, details of the molecular signaling process that leads to T cell activation have remained ...

Dendritic cells 'divide and conquer' to elude viral infection while promoting immunity

July 7, 2017
A research team led by Jackson Laboratory (JAX) Professor Karolina Palucka, M.D., Ph.D., in collaboration with a research team at Institut Curie in France led by Dr. Nicolas Manel, have addressed a long-standing puzzle of ...

Recommended for you

Western diet depletes artery-protecting immune cells

March 21, 2018
New research from scientists at the La Jolla Institute For Allergy and Immunology shows how a diet high in fat and cholesterol depletes the ranks of artery-protecting immune cells, turning them into promoters of inflammation, ...

Quintupling inhaler medication may not prevent asthma attacks in children

March 19, 2018
Children with mild to moderate asthma do not benefit from a common practice of increasing their inhaled steroids at the first signs of an asthma exacerbation, according to clinical trial results published in The New England ...

How allergens trigger asthma attacks

March 19, 2018
A team of Inserm and CNRS researchers from the Institute of Pharmacology and Structural Biology have identified a protein that acts like a sensor detecting allergens in the respiratory tract that are responsible for asthma ...

Single steroid-bronchodilator treatment for control and rescue improves persistent asthma

March 19, 2018
When it comes to treating teens and adults with persistent asthma, using a single corticosteroid and long-acting bronchodilator treatment for both daily asthma control and for rescue relief during sudden asthma attacks is ...

Obesity and health problems: New research on a safeguard mechanism

March 16, 2018
Obesity and its negative impacts on health - including metabolic syndrome, type-2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular complications - are a global pandemic (Taubes, 2009). The worldwide incidence of obesity has more than ...

Immune system 'double agent' could be new ally in cancer fight

March 16, 2018
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists have discovered that an enzyme called TAK1 functions like a "double agent" in the innate immune response, serving as an unexpected regulator of inflammation and cell death. ...


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.