The spontaneous mutation was discovered in a strain of Fox Chase laboratory mice—a potentially useful new research tool for studying the development of immune response
A team of Fox Chase Cancer Center scientists led by immunologist Dietmar J. Kappes, Ph.D., has identified the genetic mutation that keeps a mouse strain from developing white blood cells, or lymphocytes, called helper T cells. The report by Kappes and his colleagues appears in the Feb. 24 issue of Nature. Kappes laboratory first discovered the mice with this naturally occurring defect in Fox Chases laboratory animal facility in 1997. Known as "helper deficient" or HD mice, they are proving to be useful for exploring the pathways of lymphocyte development, according to Kappes.
Helper T cells, so called because they arise from the thymus gland, are essential for combating intracellular viral and bacterial infections (cell-mediated immunity) and also for helping other white blood cells (B cells, derived from bone marrow) generate antibodies against foreign agents that enter the body. Other T cells are known as killer cells because they attack foreign invaders more directly.
Karen Carter Mallet | EurekAlert!
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