"When we got those results everybody was really excited about it, because pulling out epigenetic changes from a cell population during an infection in vivo is really pretty remarkable," Tarrio said.
Because the epigenetic study looked at the broader genome of NK cell DNA, not just at the IL-10 gene, Tarrio added, the researchers can now go back to the data to look for other proliferation-induced changes. That could tell them whether proliferation perhaps alters other important functions in NK cells.
"It's entirely likely there are other changes going on and it could be for other purposes," Tarrio said. "This is one answer to why NK cells proliferate."
With her first grad school paper now published, Tarrio is continuing the research with Biron. The next question in her thesis work will be how long post-infection proliferation and any associated functional changes persist in the NK cells.
|Contact: David Orenstein|