Researchers have identified an essential protein for B cell maturation, a process required for this immune cell to become functional, according to a paper in the July issue of Nature Immunology.
B lymphocytes produce antibodies, which are molecules that 'tag' invading pathogens for destruction by the immune system. B lymphocytes can switch the type of antibody they produce to suit the pathogen they encounter.
Riccardo Dalla-Favera and colleagues demonstrate that B lymphocytes lacking a molecule called IRF4 fail to mature and cannot switch antibody types. These results suggest that IRF4 is required for B lymphocytes to fight infection. In addition, because some B cell cancers contain excessive amounts of IRF4, these results may help researchers understand how certain types of cancers develop.
Riccardo Dalla-Favera (Columbia University, New York, NY USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
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