Fifty Shades of Immune Defence

Fifty Shades of Immune Defense

This great paper appeared in PLOS Pathogens recently. I’ll let you read it for yourself, but to summarize:

In their struggle to survive and thrive, all living things must defend themselves from predatory attack. Microbes, in the form of parasites, bacteria, fungi, and viruses, are life’s most accomplished predators. Therefore, all living things have evolved mechanisms to defend against them. Historically, biological defense systems have been classified into two broad categories – innate systems that provide nonspecific defense against invading pathogens and adaptive systems that provide long-lasting defense against attack by specific pathogens. Recently, a growing body of literature in comparative immunology has indicated that these categories may not be as distinct as was originally believed. Instead, a variety of immune mechanisms that share properties of both innate and adaptive systems have been recently elucidated. This papers describes five key facts about the newly appreciated shades of grey between innate and adaptive defense systems:

  1. Innate and Adaptive Immunity Are No Longer Black and White; There Are Increasing Shades of Grey
  2. The Immunoglobulin Superfamily (IgSF) Is Neither the Only Nor the Oldest Antigen Receptor System
  3. Invertebrate Immune Cells Have Complex Receptor Systems, Possibly Affording Adaptive Immunity
  4. Forms of Immunological Memory May Well Exist in Nonvertebrates, Even in Prokaryotes
  5. Comparative Immunologists Will Not Be the Sole Beneficiaries of These Discoveries

Fifty Shades of Immune Defense. (2013) PLoS Pathog 9(2): e1003110. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003110

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