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Following The Trail To Death

  February, 17 2003 9:06
your information resource in human molecular genetics
In the March issue of Nature Immunology, scientists show that a protein known as TRAIL may be important in preventing the development of dangerous immune cells that have the ability to attack other healthy cells. This finding adds a potentially important piece to the puzzle of how our body purges unwanted cells to prevent autoimmune diseases.

Immune cells known as T cells are vetted early during their development for their potential to kill healthy cells, long before they have a chance to cause any unwanted damage. Chen and colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania examined mice that do not express TRAIL and found that these mice cannot efficiently eliminate developing T cells in the thymus, the organ in which T cells undergo this stringent ‘quality control’. Although this observation has not yet been directly linked to autoimmune diseases, it has important implications in a process that is required to shape the normal immune system.

Author contact:
Youhai H. Chen
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Philadelphia, PA, USA
Tel: +1 215 898 4671
E-mail: yhc@mail.med.upenn.edu

Additional contact for comment on paper:
Douglas R. Green
Dept of Cell Immunology
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
San Diego, CA
Tel: +1 858 558 3515
E-mail: doug@liai.org

Also available online.

(C) Nature Immunology press release.

Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza

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