Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Immune Genes Adapt To Parasites

Date:
May 26, 2009
Source:
Rockefeller University Press
Summary:
Thank parasites for making some of our immune proteins into the inflammatory defenders they are today, according to a population genetics study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. The study also suggests that you might blame parasites for sculpting some of those genes into risk factors for intestinal disorders.

Thank parasites for making some of our immune proteins into the inflammatory defenders they are today, according to a population genetics study that will appear in the June 8 issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine (online May 25). The study, conducted by a team of researchers in Italy, also suggests that you might blame parasites for sculpting some of those genes into risk factors for intestinal disorders.

Related Articles


Parasite-driven selection leaves a footprint on our DNA in the form of mutations known as "single nucleotide polymorphisms" (SNPs). Making sure that genetic variation (in the form of multiple SNPs) is maintained within certain immune genes over time helps ensure that the host can fend off different infections in different environments.

In the new study, Matteo Fumagalli and colleagues sift through 1,052 SNPs in genes that code for immune proteins called interleukins from roughly 1000 people worldwide. Of 91 genes assessed, 44 bore signatures of evolutionary selection, meaning that the genetic variation was neither due to chance nor to the migration of populations over time. And some of that variation correlated with the diversity of parasites that live alongside humans. The data suggests that having lots of different parasites around has shaped the evolution of our interleukin genes.

In general, parasitic worms appear to have had a more powerful influence on certain interleukin genes than smaller microbes such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. That isn't surprising, says senior author Manuela Sironi, because worms typically evolve slower than bacteria or viruses, giving their human hosts time to adapt in response. Some of the genes that were shaped by worm diversity made perfect sense, as the proteins they encode help generate the precise type of immune response required to rid the body of worms.

Other genes, however, seemed to be influenced more by the diversity of viruses, bacteria, and fungi than by that of worms. SNPs in some of these genes are known risk alleles for inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's and celiac disease. These "risky" alleles were probably maintained during evolution because they promote the kind of immune response needed to fend off viruses and bacteria. But this type of response also contributes to inflammatory bowel diseases.

Journal reference: Fumagalli, M., et al. 2009. J. Exp. Med. doi: 10.1084/jem.20082779


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rockefeller University Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rockefeller University Press. "Immune Genes Adapt To Parasites." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090525105427.htm>.
Rockefeller University Press. (2009, May 26). Immune Genes Adapt To Parasites. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090525105427.htm
Rockefeller University Press. "Immune Genes Adapt To Parasites." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090525105427.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Giant Panda Goes Walkabout in Southwest China

Giant Panda Goes Walkabout in Southwest China

AFP (Mar. 6, 2015) — A giant panda goes walkabout alone at night in southwest China. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nesting Bald Eagle Covered in Snow Up to Its Neck

Nesting Bald Eagle Covered in Snow Up to Its Neck

Buzz60 (Mar. 6, 2015) — The Pennsylvania State Game Commission captured amazing shots of a nesting bald eagle who stayed on its nest during a snowstorm, even when the snow piled all the way up to its neck. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Extinct' Bird Isn't Extinct At All, Scientists Find

'Extinct' Bird Isn't Extinct At All, Scientists Find

Buzz60 (Mar. 6, 2015) — Scientists rediscover a bird thought to be extinct, so we may be able to cross it off the "Gone For Good" list. Sean Dowling (@seandowlingtv) has more details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lack of Snow Pushes Alaska Sled Dog Race North

Lack of Snow Pushes Alaska Sled Dog Race North

AP (Mar. 6, 2015) — A shortage of snow has forced Alaska&apos;s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to move 300 miles north to Fairbanks. The ceremonial start through downtown Anchorage will take place this weekend, using snow stockpiled earlier this winter. (March 6) 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

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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