Navigation Links
Lampreys provide hints to ancient immune cells

Studying lampreys allows biologists to envision the evolutionary past, because they represent an early offshoot of the evolutionary tree, before sharks and fish.

Despite their inconspicuous appearance, lampreys have a sophisticated immune system with three types of white blood cell that resemble our B and T cells, researchers have discovered.

Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine and the Max Planck Institute of Immunology and Epigenetics in Freiburg have identified a type of white blood cell in lampreys analogous to the "gamma delta T cells" found in mammals, birds and fish. Gamma delta T cells have specialized roles defending the integrity of the skin and intestines, among other functions.

The results are published in the journal Nature.

The finding follows an earlier study showing that cells resembling two main types of white blood cells, B cells and T cells, are present in lampreys. In the human immune system, B cells can differentiate into antibody-secreting cells and can grab their targets directly, while T cells generally recognize their targets only through cell-to-cell contact.

"We have been able to define another lineage of T-like lymphocytes in lampreys," says first author Masayuki Hirano, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and the Emory Vaccine Center. "This suggests that the genetic programs for all three lineages of white blood cells are very ancient."

Hirano says the team's results indicate that distinct cells with functions that are similar to gamma delta T cells may have existed in the last common vertebrate ancestor, before jawed and jawless vertebrates diverged around 500 million years ago.

The senior author of the paper is Max Cooper, MD, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and the Emory Vaccine Center, and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. Thomas Boehm, MD, group leader at the Max Planck Institute and colleagues were contributors to the paper.

B and T cells are the foundation of the adaptive immune system, allowing mammals, birds and fish to respond to a wide variety of pathogens and "remember" what they've encountered. B and T cells produce characteristic proteins: antibodies (for B cells) and T cell receptors. These proteins have modular sections that are variable from cell to cell, but they share structural and sequence similarity across species.

Lampreys' white blood cells produce proteins with a broad diversity and function comparable to antibodies and T cell receptors, but in contrast, these variable lymphocyte receptor (VLR) proteins do not look like antibodies structurally.

Cells that produce VLR-A proteins are roughly comparable to T cells, while VLR-B-producing cells resemble B cells. Cooper's laboratory recently characterized the structure and assembly of a third set of VLR-C genes, in addition to the VLR-A and VLR-B gene families.

In the new Nature paper, the authors show that VLR-C proteins are found on a third type of white blood cell that do not produce the other VLR varieties. These VLR-C-positive cells are the predominant white blood cell type found in lampreys' skin.

They are also more abundant in lamprey larvae.

Many of the VLR-C proteins found in the lampreys' skin displayed the same or almost the same protein sequence. This restricted diversity resembles that of gamma delta T cells found in the skin of mammals. In addition, lampreys' VLR-C-positive cells have activated some of the same genes that, in mammals, control the development of gamma delta T cells.


Contact: Quinn Eastman
Emory Health Sciences

Related biology news :

1. New insights into neuroblastoma tumor suppressor may provide clues for improved treatment
2. Lets have lunch! -- teachers eating with their students provides nutrition education opportunities
3. New technologies and ingredients provide better options for gluten-free eating
4. Genomic atlas of gene switches in plants provides roadmap for crop research
5. Protected areas provide African birds with stepping stones to survival
6. Biometric Authentication Provides Better Mobile Device Security, Heavy Reading Finds
7. The duck genome provides new insight into fighting bird flu
8. New research shows that potatoes provide one of the best nutritional values per penny
9. Schools should provide opportunities for 60 minutes of daily physical activity to all students
10. Schools should provide students with daily physical activity, IOM recommends
11. Study provides insight into nesting behavior of dinosaurs
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/21/2016)... VANCOUVER, British Columbia , June 21, 2016 ... been appointed to the new role of principal ... has been named the director of customer development. ... , NuData,s chief technical officer. The moves reflect ... development teams in response to high customer demand ...
(Date:6/15/2016)... , June 15, 2016 ... report titled "Gesture Recognition Market by Application Market - Global Industry ... - 2024". According to the report, the  global gesture ... in 2015 and is estimated to grow at ... billion by 2024.  Increasing application of ...
(Date:6/7/2016)... 2016  Syngrafii Inc. and San Antonio Credit ... includes integrating Syngrafii,s patented LongPen™ eSignature "Wet" solution ... will result in greater convenience for SACU members ... maintaining existing document workflow and compliance requirements. ... Highlights: ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... /PRNewswire/ - BIOREM Inc. (TSX-V: BRM) ("Biorem" or "the Company") ... shareholders, Clean Technology Fund I, LP and Clean Technology ... based venture capital funds which together hold approximately 59% ... diluted, as converted basis), that they have entered into ... holdings in Biorem to TUS Holdings Co. Ltd. ("TUS") ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... Raleigh, NC (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 ... ... have just published their findings on what they believe could be a new ... summary of the new research. Click here to read it now. ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Newly created 4Sight Medical Solutions ... healthcare market. The company's primary focus is on new product introductions, to include ... are necessary to help companies efficiently bring their products to market. , The ...
(Date:6/27/2016)...  Liquid Biotech USA , ... Sponsored Research Agreement with The University of Pennsylvania ... cancer patients.  The funding will be used to ... clinical outcomes in cancer patients undergoing a variety ... employed to support the design of a therapeutic, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: