In this week's Nature, researchers uncover the role of a vital protein called IRF-5 in triggering immune defences against invading pathogens. Targeting this protein with drugs might help control dangerous over-reactions to some disease-causing microbes.
Tadatsugu Taniguchi and his colleagues studied a pathway in the immune system involving Toll-like receptors, which recognize molecules originating from invading microbes and stimulate inflammatory responses and immunity. By studying mice genetically engineered to lack the Irf5 gene, they show that the IRF-5 protein is essential for these responses.
Once Toll-like receptors are activated, IRF-5 protein moves to the nucleus of the cell, the team found, where it turns on the production of cytokines that trigger inflammation. Mice lacking IRF-5 launch only a weak immune response to bacterial protein, they go on to show
Tadatsugu Taniguchi (University of Tokyo, Japan)
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