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
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In the article on the discovery of dinosaurs (They’re back, Review, 6 June) you state: “In Sussex, a local doctor uncovered fragmentary remains of what appeared to be two more species of colossal extinct land reptiles.” You grossly underplay the contribution of Lewes-born Gideon Mantell, geologist and palaeontologist, author and diarist, friend to princes and international scholars as well as local doctor. Mantell not only discovered (aided by his wife) the first remains of the iguanodon in 1824 but named it – as it resembled the tooth of an iguana. This was the first known land dinosaur, Mary Anning having identified the first sea-living dinosaur.Mantell went on to put together more pieces of the jigsaw with extra fossil discoveries. In contrast to Richard Owen, whose models form the basis for the Crystal Palace dinosaurs, Mantell stated correctly that iguanodon would have walked on their back legs, using their forearms to fight or gather food. He did, however, attribute the thumb spike to a nose horn though later corrected this assumption. The Natural History Museum has a display on Gideon and his wife Mary’s contribution as well as the large “Mantell-piece” of Iguanodon fossils that he had on show in his museum in Brighton. He sold it, along with many more priceless items, to the British Museum in 1838. Gideon Mantell’s reputation deserves better than your throwaway remark. Debby MatthewsLewes, East Sussex Continue reading...
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