A new mechanism regulates type I interferon production in white blood cells

Jan 12, 2009

A study from a team of researchers led by Dr. Andrew P. Makrigiannis, Director of the Molecular Immunology Research Unit at the IRCM, has identified a new mechanism regulating interferon production. This discovery, co-authored by scientists from the International Medical Center of Japan (Tokyo), the National Cancer Institute at Frederick (Maryland) and the McGill Centre for the Study of Host Resistance, was published on December 22, 2008 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

The plasmacytoid dendritic cell (pDC) is a type of white blood cell. The primary function of this cell type is to produce type I interferon when the body is infected by a virus. The pDC has special surface receptors that can detect many types of viruses. Type I interferon is thus very important for the clearance of a viral infection.

"Working with mice, we have identified a mechanism that regulates the amount of interferon that is produced by pDCs, explains Dr. Makrigiannis. That mechanism is a protein-protein interaction between surface receptor Ly49Q and the class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecule."

It is known that viruses often cause a decrease of class I MHC molecules on cells. The team of scientists believes that the reason for this may be to stop interferon production by the pDCs. Thus, class I MHC recognition by Ly49Q on pDCs is necessary for the optimal activation of innate immune responses in vivo.

The discovery of this molecular strategy will very likely have a great impact in virology, and could eventually help physicians develop better therapeutic strategies to fight the infectious diseases afflicting their patients.

The online version of this article is available at: jem.rupress.org/current.shtml#IN_THIS_ISSUE

Source: Institut de recherches cliniques de Montreal

Explore further: Steadily rising increases in mitochondrial DNA mutations cause abrupt shifts in disease

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

It slices, it dices, and it protects the body from harm

Mar 01, 2014

An essential weapon in the body's fight against infection has come into sharper view. Researchers at Princeton University have discovered the 3D structure of an enzyme that cuts to ribbons the genetic material ...

Guarding the country against foreign animal diseases

Oct 25, 2013

A deadly animal virus is on the loose, treading through Russia and knocking on the doors of Eastern Europe and Asia. After its introduction into the Republic of Georgia and the Caucasus region in 2007 and ...

Plants to express human proteins

Jul 30, 2012

Plants are emerging as important biotechnology tools for the production of highly purified recombinant proteins. The Plastomics network dissected the process of foreign gene insertion into plants and their ...

Recommended for you

Cause of ageing remains elusive

18 hours ago

A report by Chinese researchers in the journal Nature a few months ago was a small sensation: they appeared to have found the cause for why organisms age. An international team of scientists, headed by the ...

Newly discovered bacterial defence mechanism in the lungs

20 hours ago

A new study from Karolinska Institutet presents a previously unknown immunological mechanism that protects us against bacterial infections in the lungs. The study is being published in the American Journal of Respiratory an ...

User comments : 0