Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Flipping the Script

Protein identified that's vital for the development and function of dendritic cells – key to the immune responses

06 May 2021

Flipping the Script

To fight specific threats, the adaptive immune system mounts a sophisticated defence, picking up on pathogens’ markers, or antigens, to set up a targeted response against them. Immune cells known as dendritic cells play an important role here: they display antigens to activate T cells, which then destroy anything they recognise as the same pathogen. Recent research on especially effective T-cell activators, type 1 conventional dendritic cells (cDC1s), found that a protein regulating the expression of other genes, the transcription factor DC-SCRIPT, was essential for their immune performance. cDC1s developing without DC-SCRIPT (highlighted in cDC1s in red, beside T cells in blue) were less able to properly interact with antigens, damaging their effectiveness against disease. As our understanding of dendritic cell development grows, researchers hope to find ways of stimulating the production of larger numbers of functional dendritic cells, to ultimately boost the body’s own defences against viruses or cancer.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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