Category Archives: Immunology

Gerald Maurice Edelman 1929 -2014

Gerald Maurice Edelman died in La Jolla California at the age of 84.

Immunologist worldwide recognize him for his contribution to the antibody enigma. Trained in medicine and chemistry his first publication on antibodies established that these molecules can be subjected to urea and sulfhydryl treatment and yield smaller chains as we know now very well but was new in 1959 when first published. For his work on antibody strucuture which e.g. lead to the first sequence of Ig γ-chain he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1972 together with Rodney R. Porter.

The antibody enigma was only solved by Susumu Tonegawa who showed that recombination of the same DNA could lead to millions of different mRNAs from which finally antibody molecules are translated. He obtained the Nobel Prize in 1987 as well.

IgD puzzle solved

For years it has been known that B lymphocytes express either IgM and IgM/IgD. It was unknown how B cells are triggered to express IgD additionally. A paper in PNAS  (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1402739111) now demonstrates that a so far overlooked Zinc-finger protein (ZFP318) is responsible for the alternative splicing in the B cell thus driving expression of IgD.

A Nature paper on B cells, hypermutation in the Germinal center

A paper in Nature:Nature 509, 637–640 (29 May 2014) doi:10.1038/nature13300 describes in detail the complex ways B cells travel betwenn in dark und the light zone during clonal expansion and hypermutation. That is remarkable since the autors use different techniques for the labelling of cells. Aside from methodological point of view this shows complex interactions with T cells as one driving force in this process.

LPS tolerance, aryl hydrocarbon receptor and dioxygenases

Yesterday I saw a fascinating Nature article (Nature doi:10.1038/nature13323): Low doses of LPS in mice induce LPS tolerance. The underlying mechanism involve – according to the authors – the AhR and two different dioxigenases, tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase and  indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase. This is related to endotoxic shock a still devasting condition.