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Some immune cells defend only 1 organ
Date:4/17/2014

us.

Sojka also experimented with transcription factors molecular switches that turn a number of genes on and off. Among other results, she found that disabling one of these switches could prevent circulating natural killer cells from developing without affecting tissue-resident natural killer cells in the liver, skin and uterus. Disabling another transcription factor wiped out the liver and skin tissue-resident natural killer cells while having little effect on the circulating and uterus tissue-resident natural killer cells.

"If one group of cells absolutely needs a specific transcription factor to exist, while another group of cells doesn't care if that factor is gone, that strongly suggests the two groups of cells use distinct developmental pathways and are therefore different," Sojka said.

Her results point to at least four types of natural killer cells rather than just the one major type long recognized by immunologists. She is looking for groups of resident natural killer cells in other organs and investigating the origins and functions of those she already has identified.

"Conceptually, this is very different, a significant change in our thinking about how a very important part of the immune system works," said Yokoyama, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.


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Contact: Michael C. Purdy
purdym@wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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