One major cause of illness from food-borne diseases is the parasite Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii). New insights into how the immune system combats T. gondii are provided in a study published by Cell Press December 13th in the journal Immunity. The findings could lead to the development of long-sought vaccines to protect against T. gondii and related parasites.
To fight off pathogens, the immune system relies on Toll-like receptors (TLRs)—a class of proteins that recognize microbes and activate immune responses. The important role of TLR11 in recognizing the T. gondii infection was previously demonstrated by a team led by Sankar Ghosh of Columbia University and Alan Sher of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. But scientists had not yet identified any TLRs—including TLR11—that could promote survival in infected animals.
In the new study, Ghosh, Sher, and their collaborators focused on the previously uncharacterized TLR12 because it is closely related to TLR11 and physically interacts with that receptor, suggesting that the two might work together to mount immune responses. When they genetically engineered mice to lack TLR12, they found that immune cells could not recognize or protect against T. gondii, and these mice quickly succumbed to infection. Although both TLR11 and TLR12 activate overlapping immune responses to T. gondii in certain types of cells, TLR12 also triggers responses in a distinct set of immune cells to promote survival.
"Prior to this study, TLR12 had no known function in the immune system, and it was not known what pathogen this receptor recognized," Ghosh says. "We have demonstrated that TLR12 is essential for resistance to T. gondii in mice."
Cell Press: http://www.cellpress.com
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Mother deer rushed towards the infant distress calls of seals, humans and even bats, suggesting that these mammals share similar emotions
In the forests of eastern Australia, a squadron of social spiders faces off against an army of the world's most dangerous ants in a pitched battle for survival
Contrary to some earlier projections, the world's population will soar through the end of the 21st century thanks largely to sub-Saharan Africa's higher-than-expected birth rates, United Nations and other population experts said on Thursday.
Archaeologists got to the root of an ancient hairstyle when they unearthed a 3,300-year-old body with 70 hair extensions
A major international study finds that killings among chimpanzees result from normal competition, not human interference.
Clownfish travel hundreds of kilometres, but it is the larvae rather than the adults that migrate
U.S. government researchers working with divers and sonar equipment have located the wrecks of what they dubbed "forgotten ghost ships" in waters just outside San Francisco's Golden Gate strait.
"It's spooky," a Clearwater, Fla., fisherman said, comparing the toxic algae bloom to "boiled red Georgia clay"
Physicist Danielle Bassett has been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship based on her work studying the human brain. She talks with Melissa Block about the advances it may lead to.
A team of researchers are using multispectral imaging to uncover hidden text on a 1491 Martellus map, one of the most important maps in history. Lead researcher Chet Van Duzer thinks the discoveries will allow historians and scholars to see just how the map influenced cartography in its time.