Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Components that keep immune system in check identified

Date:
September 19, 2011
Source:
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have revealed the genetic underpinnings of cells -- called Foxp3-expressing regulatory T cells or Tregs -- that can prevent the immune response from turning cannibalistic. Their finding lends insight into these key cells, which are currently being tested as treatments for diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, arthritis and lupus.

A sample from a normal lung is on the left, and from a diseased lung on the right. Immune cells invade lung tissue when GATA-3 is absent in Tregs.
Credit: Wan Lab, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Within the immune system, a subtle balance exists between the cells that destroy alien pathogens and those that preserve the body's own tissues. When the balance gets out of whack, the cells that normally target viruses or bacteria can go astray, attacking innocent cells and causing autoimmune and inflammatory disease.

Now, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have revealed the genetic underpinnings of the cells -called Foxp3-expressing regulatory T cells or Tregs -- that can prevent the immune response from turning cannibalistic. Their finding lends insight into these key cells, which are currently being tested as treatments for diseases such as type I diabetes, arthritis and lupus.

"Understanding how the immune system is controlled can give people a better, bigger picture of how these diseases can emerge and could help us find more effective therapies in the future," said senior study author Yisong Y. Wan, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the UNC School of Medicine.

The study, published online Sept. 15, 2011, in the journal Immunity, is the first to implicate a regulatory switch known as GATA-3 in Treg function and immune tolerance. The factor was known to regulate another type of immune cell, called a type-2 helper T cell, but its role in Tregs was unknown.

So Wan and his colleagues looked to see what would happen if they deleted the GATA-3 gene specifically in Tregs of mice. They found that the mutant mice developed a spontaneous inflammatory disorder, with abnormal immune cell invasion into tissues (Images). When they delved deeper, the scientists discovered that the Tregs were no longer able to suppress the immune system like they should. The researchers then traced this defect through the chain of command, from the Foxp3 that regulates Treg function (hence the name Foxp3-expressing regulatory T cells), up to the GATA-3 that regulates Foxp3.

Having uncovered this previously unknown function of GATA-3, Wan would now like to see what else this important master regulator may be controlling in immune cells. In particular, he is looking for components of the immune system that could be potential targets for correcting the underlying defects that lead to inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Lupus Research Institute, and the University Cancer Research Fund. Study co-authors were Yunqi Wang, PhD, postdoctoral associate, and Maureen A. Su, MD, assistant professor in the UNC Thurston Arthritis Center.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yunqi Wang, MaureenA. Su, YisongY. Wan. An Essential Role of the Transcription Factor GATA-3 for the Function of Regulatory T Cells. Immunity, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2011.08.012

Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Components that keep immune system in check identified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919113947.htm>.
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. (2011, September 19). Components that keep immune system in check identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919113947.htm
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Components that keep immune system in check identified." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919113947.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. 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:

More Coverage


New Insight Into Immune Tolerance Furthers Understanding of Autoimmune Disease

Sep. 15, 2011 The mechanisms that underlie immune activation and tolerance are not completely understood. Now, a new research study provides intriguing insight into the complex immune regulatory mechanisms that ... read more
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