Two studies in the January 2007 issue of Nature Immunology demonstrate the importance of a host protein in recognizing the presence of fungal infections. Pathogenic fungi can cause life-threatening infections in individuals with immunodeficiencies, such as those with advanced HIV disease.
Two independent groups, led by Gordon Brown and Yoichiro Iwakura, produced mice that lack the protein Dectin-1, a cell-surface protein implicated in immune responses to fungal infections. Both groups show that mice that lack Dectin-1 are relatively normal except when infected with fungi, which causes more lethality in the mutant mice. The authors also evaluated the types of blunted immune responses that occur in the mutant mice and show that only specific immune functions are defective.
These studies substantially extend our understanding of how pathogenic fungi affect host tissues and the requirement of Dectin-1 in those processes.
Gordon Brown (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
Yoichiro Iwakura (University of Tokyo, Japan)
Additional comment on the paper:
Jürg Tschopp (University of Lausanne, Epalinges, Switzerland)
Abstracts available online:
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza