JUN 17, 2021 8:00 AM PDT

How T Cells Sense Dangerous Invaders

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandes

T cells form a major part of our immune defenses, protecting us against the constant barrage of potentially pathogenic pathogens in our environment. Now, immunologists from Monash University reveal new insights on the intricacies surrounding T cell activation upon encountering such pathogenic threats.

In a study published in the journal Science, a team led by Nicole La Gruta found that to generate a robust activating signal, T cells need to latch on to pathogens such as viruses in a specific orientation. T cell receptors on the surface of these immune cells latch on to fragments of infectious agents called antigens, presented on the surface of infected cells. This critical recognition event triggers a cascade of molecular events leading to the destruction and elimination of an infected cell.

"The central issue is that there are millions of different T cell receptors (TCRs) in the human body, and a vast array of viruses, making it difficult to understand the rules around how T cell receptor recognition of a virus drives T cell activation. Indeed, it is a problem that has remained contentious for over 25 years" explained La Gruta.

Using a suite of experimental technologies including super-resolution microscopy, biochemical assays and in vitro and animal models, La Gruta and colleagues found that the orientation in which the TCR binds to its target determines if the T cell is activated. 

"This is an advance in our fundamental understanding of how a T cell needs to 'see' pathogenic antigens in order to be activated," said La Gruta. "It has clarified a critical mechanism essential for effective T cell immunity. It is also relevant to the ongoing development of immunotherapies that aim to boost the activation of T cells."

 


Source: Science, Monash University.

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Interested in health technology and innovation.
You May Also Like
NOV 01, 2022
Cardiology
Autoimmune Disorders Increase Cardiovascular Risk
Autoimmune Disorders Increase Cardiovascular Risk
People with autoimmune disorders are significantly more likely to develop heart disease compared to the general populati ...
DEC 20, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
These Immune Cells Can Shield the Brain & Prevent Cognitive Decline
These Immune Cells Can Shield the Brain & Prevent Cognitive Decline
It was once thought that inflammation and immune responses in the brain were limited; that is was a so-called immune pri ...
FEB 03, 2023
Drug Discovery & Development
Tzield: Newest Type 1 Diabetes Drug
Tzield: Newest Type 1 Diabetes Drug
Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is a autoimmune genetic disease that results in a person’s pancreas not making enough insuli ...
DEC 28, 2022
Immunology
Shedding LIGHT on the Mechanisms Underlying Severe Asthma
Shedding LIGHT on the Mechanisms Underlying Severe Asthma
Scientists have discovered that an inflammatory cytokine known as LIGHT is a major factor in the deadly airway damage th ...
JAN 16, 2023
Coronavirus
'Kraken' - Will This COVID Subvariant Outcompete Them All?
'Kraken' - Will This COVID Subvariant Outcompete Them All?
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to cause huge numbers of infections around the world because of the ...
JAN 24, 2023
Immunology
Unprecedented Analysis of HIV Reservoir Cells Reveals Unique Properties
Unprecedented Analysis of HIV Reservoir Cells Reveals Unique Properties
HIV-1 is tenacious. It forms reservoirs that establish a life-long presence in the body - cells that are HIV-infected bu ...
Loading Comments...