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 April 25, 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 April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) That little voice telling you to exercise, get in shape and get healthy is probably coming from your boss. More companies are beefing up wellness programs to try and cut down their health care costs. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) The Food and Drug Administration wants to crack down on the use of e-cigarettes, banning the sale of the product to minors. Video provided by Newsy
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