The study, reported in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was headed by David Traver, an associate professor in UCSD’s Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, with colleagues in UCSD’s Division of Biological Sciences and at the Brazilian National Cancer Institute.
Dendritic cells (DCs) form a crucial link between the innate and adaptive immune systems in mammals. Innate immunity is present in all organisms, providing immediate but short-lived and relatively non-specific defense against infection. Adaptive immunity is evolutionarily younger and more complex. It produces long-lasting protection against specific pathogens after initial exposure. Mammalian DCs act as sentries that bridge the innate and adaptive systems, confronting and engulfing newly discovered pathogens, then recruiting and activating antigen-specific T lymphocytes.
While DCs and the adaptive response have been well-documented in mammals, it was not clear whether these cells existed in non-mammalian vertebrates. Scientists knew that zebrafish – an increasingly popular animal model – exhibited many of the cellular elements of the adaptive system, including T and B lymphocytes, but no one had documented the presence of dendritic cells.
Traver and colleagues inventoried hematopoietic cells that could engulf labeled bacteria, looking for cells that appeared and behaved like mammalian DCs. They found multiple suspects, but finally zeroed in on one rare cell type that appears to fit all of the criteria for being a dendritic cell.
“All signs point to these cells being the fish version of dendritic cells,” said Traver. “They have all of the major characteristics.”
The discovery of DCs in zebrafish provides researchers with another model for investigating the mammalian immune system, particular with regard to humans. “The cool thing is that the more we learn, the more we realize that our immune systems are highly conserved,” said Traver. “Of course, there are differences. These differences, however, are variations on a theme, with the major themes of immune cell function being quite similar. Likewise, there are differences and variations in the dendritic cells of mice compared to humans, but the basics are the same.”
Zebrafish do offer some practical research advantages over other models.
First, the fish are translucent. “You can track individual cells and systems directly in the whole animal,” said Traver. “Very little is known about the initial immune response in mammals because we can’t see it happening. In these fish, we can visualize what happens in real time.”
Second, zebrafish are easy to handle and reproduce rapidly, making it easier to engineer and study mutations. “We can quickly grow generations of fish, letting the genetics tell us what’s important,” Traver said.
Co-authors with Traver are Geanncarlo Lugo-Villarino, Keir M. Balla and David L. Stachura of the Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, Division of Biological Sciences, UC San Diego and Miriam B.F. Werneck of the Division of Cellular Biology, Brazilian National Cancer Institute.
Scott LaFee | Newswise Science News
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy