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
PhD
Interested in health technology and innovation.
You May Also Like
FEB 03, 2022
Immunology
Violet Extract Boosts Brain Cancer Drug's Performance
FEB 03, 2022
Violet Extract Boosts Brain Cancer Drug's Performance
Cyclotides are small, ring-shaped proteins produced by plants to defend themselves from certain insect pests and bacteri ...
JAN 30, 2022
Health & Medicine
What Happens After Omicron? Scientists' Predictions
JAN 30, 2022
What Happens After Omicron? Scientists' Predictions
Now that Omicron is running through the globe and increasing exposure to SARS-CoV-2 more than any previous variant, scie ...
FEB 06, 2022
Health & Medicine
Is Continual Boosting Against COVID-19 Practical or Sustainable?
FEB 06, 2022
Is Continual Boosting Against COVID-19 Practical or Sustainable?
According to the CDC, people are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations if they're not boosted 5 months after the ...
APR 13, 2022
Immunology
Infected Immune Cells - How COVID-19 Causes Catastrophic Inflammation
APR 13, 2022
Infected Immune Cells - How COVID-19 Causes Catastrophic Inflammation
The immune system must be able to swing into action to overcome pathogenic invaders. But the inflammation that accompani ...
MAY 08, 2022
Technology
Detecting Cytokine Storm Through Sweat
MAY 08, 2022
Detecting Cytokine Storm Through Sweat
A cytokine storm is a severe immune system reaction where the body is flooded with cells and molecules (called cytokines ...
MAY 17, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
CDC Investigation into Severe Hepatitis Cases in over 100 Children: What to Know
MAY 17, 2022
CDC Investigation into Severe Hepatitis Cases in over 100 Children: What to Know
Over a hundred cases of hepatitis in children in the United States and four hundred worldwide are being investigated by ...
Loading Comments...