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Control switches found for immune cells that fight cancer, viral infection
Date:7/10/2008

y to make HS1. The resulting cells were severely disabled: They couldn't effectively pursue target cells, bind to them or prepare to kill them.

Prior research by other scientists had revealed that when NK cells are in motion or attacking a target, HS1 has chemical modifications attached to it at specific points. Giving the NK cells normal HS1 restored their lost functions, but when researchers gave the NK cells HS1 where these attachment points had been altered, the cells were selectively disabled. Changing one attachment point prevented them from pursuing target cells, while changing the other impaired their ability to bind to targets and kill them.

"Tight regulation is very important to prevent NK cells from harming the body's own tissues," Boyd says. "This ability to switch where the control signal goes makes HS1 a powerful regulator of NK cell activityit allows the cells to provide just the right services at the right time."

Cooper and Boyd plan follow-up studies that will start at the attachment points on HS1 and trace connections with and influences on other proteins.

"NK cells are very good at nipping early cancers in the bud," says Cooper. "If we can better understand how they're activated, this could lead us to ways to make them better killers of cancers and cells infected by viruses and other invaders."


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Contact: Michael C. Purdy
purdym@wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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