Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chain Reaction Of The Immune System Frozen

Date:
June 29, 2009
Source:
NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research)
Summary:
Scientists have succeeded in freezing a chain reaction of the immune system. This achievement marks a breakthrough in the field of immunology.

A team of scientists led by chemist and NWO Pioneer laureate Piet Gros and medical microbiologist Jos van Strijp from Utrecht University have succeeded in freezing a chain reaction of the immune system. This achievement marks a breakthrough in the field of immunology. The researchers from Utrecht University, University Medical Centre Utrecht and the University of Pennsylvania, published their findings on 7 June with two simultaneous articles in Nature Immunology.

One of the oldest defence mechanisms of our body is the complement system. Unlike white blood cells, which must learn to recognise pathogens, the complement system works from birth onwards. The system consists of proteins that initiate a chain reaction to kill bacteria and damaged cells. However the system is not perfect; it can run wild and attack our own healthy cells.

The chain reaction needs to be studied in detail in order to understand how it proceeds and how it can be stopped. Yet there is only one brief moment in the chain reaction during which the protein complex indicates whether cells are harmful. The complex then adjusts the surface of a pathogen so that the pathogen can be engulfed by white blood cells.

Enemy becomes an ally

The researchers made smart use of the tricks that bacteria have developed over the years. They stopped the chain reaction using the protein SCIN (Staphylococcal complement inhibitor) from the pathogenic bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. The SCIN protein brings the chain reaction to a halt and consequently the message that a bacteria has entered does not reach the white blood cells.

By freezing the protein complex at this point in time, the researchers could study its structure. They could see how the central protein was activated to indicate the presence of harmful cells and how the protein complex initiated the chain reaction. Moreover, they could analyse how SCIN brought the chain reaction to a halt.

Natural defence

In a parallel study, a second team of researchers investigated how our own cells defend themselves against possible attacks from the complement system. Factor H (FH) is the most important inhibitor of attacks on healthy cells. The researchers analysed how FH worked at the moment it came into contact with the proteins from the complement system. They compared the structure of FH at this point in time with the structure of the protein complex if it comes into contact with SCIN. The research revealed that defence proteins on the cells ensure that the chain reaction is not activated and that the protein complex is broken down.

Jin Wu and Suzan Rooijakkers carried out most of the research. Suzan Rooijakkers received an NWO Veni grant in 2006. Both studies were supervised by Vici winner Piet Gros. Jos van Strijp received a TOP subsidy from the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Rooijakkers et al. Structural and functional implications of the alternative complement pathway C3 convertase stabilized by a staphylococcal inhibitor. Nature Immunology, 2009; 10 (7): 721 DOI: 10.1038/ni.1756
  2. Jin Wu, You-Qiang Wu, Daniel Ricklin, Bert Janssen, John Lambris and Piet Gros. Structure of complement component 3b-factor H and implications for host protection by complement regulators. Nature Immunology, Online June 7

Cite This Page:

NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). "Chain Reaction Of The Immune System Frozen." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090622194350.htm>.
NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). (2009, June 29). Chain Reaction Of The Immune System Frozen. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090622194350.htm
NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). "Chain Reaction Of The Immune System Frozen." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090622194350.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, cut full-year revenue forecasts because generics could cut into sales of its anti-arthritis drug, Celebrex. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
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