Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How do white blood cells detect invaders to destroy?

Date:
April 29, 2011
Source:
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Summary:
Scientists have discovered how a molecular receptor on the surface of white blood cells identifies when invading fungi have established direct contact with the cell surface and pose an infectious threat.

Scientists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have discovered how a molecular receptor on the surface of white blood cells identifies when invading fungi have established direct contact with the cell surface and pose an infectious threat.

The receptor called Dectin-1, studied in the laboratory of David Underhill, PhD, an associate professor in Cedars-Sinai's Inflammatory Bowel and Immunobiology Research Institute, detects fungi and instructs white blood cells whether to expend the energy needed to devour the invading pathogens. The findings are featured as the cover story in the April 28 edition of Nature.

Although scientists long have theorized how immune cells recognize microbial debris sloughed from invading organisms at some distance from themselves, this study establishes a model to explain how immune cells determine when pathogens are directly in contact with their surface and thus pose a significantly greater risk, demanding rapid destruction.

The study is important because it moves scientists one step closer to understanding the mysteries of how our bodies mount an immune response to fight disease.

In early stages of infection, white blood cells patrol the body looking for invading pathogens. Dectin-1, a receptor on the surface of white blood cells, recognizes specific components of fungal cell walls, and alerts or "switches on" the immune cells to prepare to fight the infection.

"Our lab has been studying Dectin-1, which directs white blood cells to eat and kill the fungi that they encounter directly, but to ignore soluble material sloughed off of the fungal surface which does not pose an immediate threat," said Helen Goodridge, PhD, first author on the study and a researcher in the laboratory headed by Underhill. "This is important because phagocytosis and anti-microbial defense responses are energy-intensive and destructive, and should only be used when absolutely necessary."

During phagocytosis, a white blood cell encounters a microbe, engulfs it, and eats it. Once inside the cell, the microbe can be killed using a combination of degradative enzymes, highly reactive chemicals, and an acidic environment.

A molecular structure that the Underhill lab calls a "phagocytic synapse" forms at the surface of the white blood cell when Dectin-1 detects fungi. As a phagocytic synapse forms, two inhibitory proteins that block transmission of signals inside the white blood cell are pushed aside. This allows Dectin-1 to instruct the cell to respond. The phagocytic synapse does not form when Dectin-1 encounters soluble fungal debris, so the white blood cell does not respond.

"The phagocytic synapse resembles another molecular structure, the 'immunological synapse.' It is critical at later stages of an immune response," said Underhill. "It appears that the phagocytic synapse may be an evolutionary precursor of the immunological synapse."

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. Underhill, who also directs the PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences and Translational Medicine at Cedars-Sinai, is the Medical Center's Janis and William Wetsman Family Chair in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Helen S. Goodridge, Christopher N. Reyes, Courtney A. Becker, Tamiko R. Katsumoto, Jun Ma, Andrea J. Wolf, Nandita Bose, Anissa S. H. Chan, Andrew S. Magee, Michael E. Danielson, Arthur Weiss, John P. Vasilakos, David M. Underhill. Activation of the innate immune receptor Dectin-1 upon formation of a ‘phagocytic synapse’. Nature, 2011; 472 (7344): 471 DOI: 10.1038/nature10071

Cite This Page:

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "How do white blood cells detect invaders to destroy?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110429095229.htm>.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. (2011, April 29). How do white blood cells detect invaders to destroy?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110429095229.htm
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "How do white blood cells detect invaders to destroy?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110429095229.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) 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


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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