Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Marking System Gives Scientists First Real View Of Immune Memory Cells

Date:
June 14, 1999
Source:
Emory University Health Sciences Center
Summary:
A new method of permanently marking T cells has allowed Emory University immunologists and colleagues to overcome one of the most challenging barriers to understanding just how the immune system works. The discovery, which could have far-reaching implications for vaccine development, transplantation and treatment of auto-immune diseases, is reported in the June 10 issue of Nature.

A new method of permanently marking T cells has allowed Emory University immunologists and colleagues to overcome one of the most challenging barriers to understanding just how the immune system works. The discovery, which could have far-reaching implications for vaccine development, transplantation and treatment of auto-immune diseases, is reported in the June 10 issue of Nature.

For the first time, scientists are now able to visually distinguish which T lymphocytes become memory cells -- those with the ability to vigorously attack previously encountered pathogens for years after an organism is exposed, either through infection or immunization.

Joshy Jacob, Ph.D., assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at Emory University School of Medicine and nobel laureate David Baltimore, Ph.D., president of the California Institute of Technology, developed the method of irreversibly tagging T lymphocytes with a cell surface protein in genetically engineered mice. The protein, which Jacob calls a "reporter gene," is found in the human placenta but not in mice. "In these mice we can, for the first time, visualize memory T cells, follow their fate in vivo and study their normal physiology in health, autoimmune disease and organ transplantation," says Jacob.

Although the existence of immune memory has been recognized and documented for more than 2,000 years, Dr. Jacob says, research has lagged behind because scientists could not unequivocally identify memory lymphocytes. Until now, there have been no known cell surface markers to distinguish between memory and non-memory (naοve) lymphocytes. The ability to remember and respond to invading organisms -- even years later -- is one of the fundamental features of the immune system. Acute viral infections induce two types of long-term memory -- humoral memory in which B cells produce antibodies to prevent infection by viruses, and cellular immunity, in which T cells activated by specific viral antigens kill the virus-infected cells .

"The key to designing good vaccines is understanding how immune memory works," Dr. Jacob points out. "And the key to understanding how memory works is to have the ability to map and follow these memory cells in animals. The basic science that will come out of this will give us important clues as to what is important for the generation and maintenance of memory."

Following the acute phase of a viral infection, which lasts only a few weeks, the majority of activated CD8 T cells die, while approximately 5 to 10% become memory cells. When memory cells come into contact with the original virus, they are capable of mounting a strong and rapid immune response. Childhood exposure to chicken pox, for example, protects an individual for a lifetime.

Drs. Jacob and Baltimore were able to tag the lymphocytes by creating genetically engineered mice. In these mice, the expression of the reporter gene is blocked by an intervening piece of DNA that separates it from the promoter. The scientists engineered into these same mice a second gene (CRE recombinase) that transiently turns on in the cells activated by virus infection. This recombinase recognizes the intervening DNA sequence and clips it out, thus connecting the promoter directly to the reporter and turning it on permanently by bringing about a DNA rearrangement in the genome.

In order to verify that the tagged cells were in fact memory cells, Drs. Jacob and Baltimore first isolated the cells, then placed them in mice that had never been exposed to the common mouse virus LCMV (lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus). When they exposed the mice to the virus, the mice were protected against infection. When they injected non-memory cells into the mice and exposed them to LCMV, however, they were not protected from the virus. Helen Hay Whitney Foundation and Leukemia Society of America funded this research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Emory University Health Sciences Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Emory University Health Sciences Center. "New Marking System Gives Scientists First Real View Of Immune Memory Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 June 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990614075555.htm>.
Emory University Health Sciences Center. (1999, June 14). New Marking System Gives Scientists First Real View Of Immune Memory Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990614075555.htm
Emory University Health Sciences Center. "New Marking System Gives Scientists First Real View Of Immune Memory Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990614075555.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) — Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) — Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) — Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) — Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins