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Persistent immunity: Wistar researchers find signals that preserve anti-viral antibodies
Date:9/1/2011

antibodies that bind to portions of the infectious agent. Once bound, the antibodies provide a target for the immune system, allowing immune cells to attack it or any infected cells in order to clear away disease. Antibodies are highly variable proteins that are produced in huge quantities by a subset of white blood cells, called B cells, that have transformed into antibody factories, termed antibody secreting cells (ASCs). Our immune system produces a broad array of antibodies, but during an infection with a virus, for example, the immune system allows the predominant production of antibodies that are directed against the virus. The cells making these particular antibodies are then selected for preservation.

According to Erikson and her colleagues, this act of preservation requires signals, provided by proteins called BLyS and APRIL. Mice that have been exposed to influenza require these proteins in order to sustain anti-influenza ASCs in their lungs. The researchers found that neutralizing BLyS and APRIL reduced the numbers of anti-viral ASCs found in the lungs and bone marrow, yet interestingly, did not affect the ASCs found in spleen or in lymph nodes nearby the lungs.

BLyS and APRIL bind to another protein called TACI, a receptor found on the surface of ASCs, which the researchers see as an important translator for marking the ASCs that will become long-lived.

"We know from humans that the absence or mutation of the TACI gene leads to common variable immunodeficiency disease (CVID) and these patients suffer from recurrent respiratory illnesses because of low amounts of certain antibodies in their bronchial secretions," said Amaya I. Wolf, Ph.D., the study's lead author and a postdoctoral fellow in the Erikson laboratory. "Our studies show that mice that lack TACI can mount an initial B cell response to viral infectionand are able to produce antibodies to flu but these mice fail to maintain anti-viral ASCs over a long period of tim
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Contact: Greg Lester
glester@wistar.org
215-898-3943
The Wistar Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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