Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cell survival protein discovery rewrites immune system story

Date:
October 10, 2010
Source:
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Summary:
A discovery by researchers in Australia is set to rewrite a long-held belief about how the body's immune system establishes its memory.

This is Dr. Ingela Vikstrom and associate professor David Tarlinton, from the institute’s immunology division.
Credit: The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

A discovery by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers in Melbourne, Australia, reported in the journal Science, is set to rewrite a long-held belief about how the body's immune system establishes its memory.

The findings of Dr Ingela Vikstrom and Associate Professor David Tarlinton, from the institute's Immunology division, centre on immune cells called B cells that produce the antibodies which fight infection.

"B cells and antibody production are the key to the success of all currently used vaccines for immunity in humans," said Associate Professor Tarlinton. "It is therefore critical that we continue to develop our knowledge of the molecular interactions that lead to immune function, which are still only vaguely understood."

Memory B cells are essential for the long-lived immunity that arises after immunisation. To develop into memory cells, B cells have to survive the natural process of apoptosis, or programmed cell death, that occurs following a large immune response.

Associate Professor Tarlinton and Dr Vikstrom study the so-called pro-survival proteins that regulate B cell survival and are therefore responsible for instructing these cells whether to live or die.

Dr Vikstrom said that B cell memory arises in temporary cellular structures called germinal centres that develop in response to activation of the immune system.

"We used genetic and pharmacological methods to identify which pro-survival molecules were essential for the process of 'instructing' these cells to establish germinal centres, as well as instructing activated B cells to proliferate and differentiate into memory B cells," Dr Vikstrom said.

"We studied two well-known pro-survival proteins called Bcl-xL and Mcl-1, which we knew were involved in the process. It surprised us to find that, contrary to popular belief, Mcl-1 is the essential pro-survival protein required for creation and maintenance of B cell memory."

The finding contradicts the widely accepted theory in immunology circles that Bcl-xL is the major pro-survival protein responsible for sustaining the development of memory B cells.

The findings build on a paper Associate Professor Tarlinton and Dr Vikstrom published earlier this year in Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences, with institute researchers Dr Andrew Lew and Dr Emma Carrington. Using a molecule that blocked the action of Bcl-xL, the study revealed that Bcl-xL was not necessary for the development of germinal centres and memory B cells, indicating that another pro-survival protein -- now shown to be Mcl-1 -- was the key to survival.

Mcl-1 is known to be an important survival protein for cancers. Associate Professor Tarlinton said the discovery could have repercussions for cancer treatment, as cancerous cells often arise from unregulated cell growth caused by defects in the apoptotic pathway. It could also have implications for the treatment of autoimmune disease and inhibiting transplant rejection.

"All cells have the potential to undergo apoptosis, so developing our understanding of the major proteins responsible for this process will have applications to all cell types in the body," he said.

The work was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Society, and the US National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ingela Vikstrom, Sebastian Carotta, Katja Luthje, Victor Peperzak, Philipp J. Jost, Stefan Glaser, Meinrad Busslinger, Philippe Bouillet, Andreas Strasser, Stephen L. Nutt, and David M. Tarlinton. Mcl-1 is Essential for Germinal Center Formation and B Cell Memory. Science, 2010; DOI: 10.1126/science.1191793

Cite This Page:

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Cell survival protein discovery rewrites immune system story." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101007141114.htm>.
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. (2010, October 10). Cell survival protein discovery rewrites immune system story. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101007141114.htm
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Cell survival protein discovery rewrites immune system story." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101007141114.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
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
Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Peace Corps is one of several U.S.-based organizations to pull workers out of West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Health officials say 2,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. due to weather, but it's excessive heat and cold that claim the most lives. 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