Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ancient Jawless Vertebrates Used Novel Immune Responses

Date:
January 3, 2006
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Researchers recently discovered that the sea lamprey, a modern representative of ancient jawless vertebrates, fights invading pathogens by generating up to 100 trillion unique receptors. These receptors, referred to as VLRs, are proteins and function like antibodies and T-cell receptors, sentinels of the immune system in all jawed vertebrates, including humans.

The sea lamprey is a modern representative of the ancient jawless vertebrates. Researchers at UMBI's Center of Marine Biotechnology are studying the lamprey to better understand the immune system of humans and other jawed vertebrates.
Credit: Ulrike Klenke and Zeev Pancer, Center of Marine Biotechnology, UMBI, Baltimore, MD

Researchers recently discovered that the sea lamprey, a modern representative of ancient jawless vertebrates, fights invading pathogens by generating up to 100 trillion unique receptors. These receptors, referred to as VLRs, are proteins and function like antibodies and T-cell receptors, sentinels of the immune system in all jawed vertebrates, including humans.

The results, reported in the Dec. 23 Science by Zeev Pancer at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute's Center of Marine Biotechnology in Baltimore, and his colleagues, proved ancient vertebrates--both jawed and jawless--used more than one strategy to develop an immune system that would recognize and defend against their myriad bodily invaders.

They studied a type of immune defense mechanism called "adaptive," because as the name implies, it adapts to the incredible number of pathogens in the environment by producing 100 trillion potentially different receptor proteins in order to recognize at least one of the invader's molecules. Recognition of the pathogen is a first step in mounting a defensive response against it.

Some 450 million years ago, both jawed and jawless vertebrates began relying on cells called lymphocytes to support the burgeoning adaptive immune system. But within the lymphocytes from the two types of animals, very different mechanisms evolved to reach very similar ends. Comparing the two immune systems is the basis of Pancer's research.

As in jawed vertebrate immune systems, he found, the diversity of the VLR proteins occurs when thousands of genetic modules go through multiple rounds of random mixing, insertion and deletion. Each new VLR gene functions as a blueprint for the corresponding VLR protein. Thus, through a mixture of chance and necessity, both jawed and jawless vertebrates stay ahead of the pathogens in their ever-evolving battle.

To test the adaptability of this alternative immune mechanism, the researchers immunized lampreys with the anthrax-causing bacterium, a pathogen not normally encountered by fish of any type. Within four weeks, the lamprey immune system had recognized the spores as foreign and responded by producing anthrax-specific VLR proteins that circulated throughout its body.

"By understanding the development and role of the lamprey immune system we can learn about our own immune system and how it functions," said Pancer. "Comparing these two systems is an unparalleled way to look at a basic biological process and also may hold promise for novel diagnostic tools."

Pancer credits the National Science Foundation, which supported this work, as enabling new discoveries that have the potential to unravel such mysteries of biology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Ancient Jawless Vertebrates Used Novel Immune Responses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 January 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060102105815.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2006, January 3). Ancient Jawless Vertebrates Used Novel Immune Responses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060102105815.htm
National Science Foundation. "Ancient Jawless Vertebrates Used Novel Immune Responses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060102105815.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) 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:
from the past week

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