By altering a molecule called Stat1, which is involved in cellular immune signaling, scientists have succeeded in making the molecule more responsive and thus more efficient. This old protein with a new twist may eventually be used to improve the bodys defense against infection.
Stat1 is involved in immune responses that are initiated by proteins called interferons. These proteins are produced by the cells of the immune system in response to challenges by foreign agents such as viruses, bacteria, parasites and tumor cells. Recently, interferon has also been shown to play a role in the bodys surveillance against the development of cancer. Because of this role, recombinant interferon is often used for the treatment of certain fibrotic diseases as well as cancers.
Interferon binds to receptors on the surface of the cell, which then use Stat molecules to send signals to the nucleus to increase the expression of genes needed to defend the host against infection. A balance in the amount of Stat signaling caused by interferon is very important.
Nicole Kresge | EurekAlert!
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