BACTERIA TAKE THEIR TOLL
Two letters and a news feature this week (Nature, 26 Apr 2001, Vol. 410, No. 6832) look at how our immune systems defend us against bacterial attack. In the first of the papers Alan Aderem of the Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, Washington, and colleagues report that a protein, TLR5, probably evolved to help mammals to detect the flagella with which many bacteria propel themselves. TLR5 is a member of the evolutionarily conserved Toll-like receptor protein family.
The second paper, from Marco Colonna of Basel Institute for Immunology, Switzerland, and colleagues, demonstrates a critical function of another protein, TREM-1, in acute inflammatory responses to bacteria. TREM-1 seems to amplify the inflammatory responses triggered by bacterial and fungal infections — implicating it as a potential therapeutic target for septic shock.
A related News Feature examines the rush of recent discoveries that have propelled Toll-like receptors and innate immunity to the forefront of immunological research.
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(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza