Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine

Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The language of T lymphocytes deciphered

How can our immune system defend us against aggressors so diverse among them as viruses, parasites, fungi and tumors? The secret lies in the large number of clones of T and B lymphocytes, each of which expresses a particular specific receptor. Until a few years ago, deciphering the complexity of this vast repertoire was considered impossible. A "Rosetta stone", or a key for decoding, was missing in order to “translate” and understand this "language" in all its complexity. Today, thanks to the development of new methods for DNA sequencing (next generation sequencing, NGS), it is possible to obtain millions of sequences that represent the “identity card” of T lymphocytes. But how is it possible to use this data to trace back to the specificity of the single clones, and how can we understand their function?

This study describes a new approach that allows deciphering the language of T lymphocytes, which are cells of the immune system that protect us from pathogens and tumors. Combining methods of next generation sequencing with in vitro stimulation and analysis of specific T cells, the researchers were able for the first time to establish a complete catalogue of the immune response to pathogens and vaccines. In particular, they have catalogued all the clones that respond to a particular microorganism, determining their specificity and their functional properties, for example their ability to produce inflammatory mediators (cytokines) or to migrate to different tissues

Read more:
The language of T lymphocytes deciphered, the Rosetta Stone of the immune system

Source: Institute for Research in Biomedicine

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