Visual aids for transplants
Tissue transplants are the only way to cure patients with serious organ failure. However, organs are difficult to transplant successfully because, unless the recipient is immunosuppressed, the donor organ will be rejected due to tissue incompatibility. Despite this, transplants can extend patients' lives for many years, so it is important to understand tissue rejection. All cells display certain molecules on their surfaces that the immune system recognizes uniquely as our own. Anything in the body that does not carry this 'branding' is destroyed rapidly by T cells in the immune system, and so a donor graft is treated just as severely as bacteria.
A study published in the October issue of Nature Immunology (Vol. 1, No. 4) sheds light on how T cells interact with donor tissue cells. Mazza and colleagues use a technique known as crystallography to visualize the molecular mechanism of a mouse T cell interacting with a mouse donor cell. These exciting images will help us in recognizing which molecular donor-recipient interactions are responsible for rejection, and how we can select donor-recipient combinations that minimize those undesirable interactions.
A News & Views was written on this paper by David M. Kranz of the University of Illinois.
Institut de Biologie Structurale J.-P. Ebel
Laboratoire de Cristallographie et Cristallogenese des Proteines
41, rue Jules Horowitz
Grenoble Cedex 1, F-38027
David M. Kranz
University of Illinois
Department of Biochemistry
600 S Mathews
322A Roger Adams Lab
Urbana, IL 61801-3602
Tel: 217 244-2821
Fax: 217 244-5858
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza