Research Press Release

Switched on to danger

Nature Immunology

October 14, 2013

How the immune system tackles the dilemma of discriminating between harmless and virulent bacteria in mice is revealed in a study published online this week in Nature Immunology.

Stanimir Ivanov and Craig Roy looked at the mouse immune response to either pathogenic or non-pathogenic mutant Legionella bacteria. They found that cells infected with non-pathogenic bacteria default to an anti-inflammatory response, while pathogenic bacteria disrupt a key cellular molecule called mTOR. This disruption of mTOR results in a switch whereby certain inflammatory genes are selectively translated into protein and therefore a protective immune response is initiated. This simple switching mechanism allows the immune system to on the one hand effectively ‘ignore’ non-threatening bacteria and avoid needless inflammation, but on the other ramp up defenses when required.


Return to research highlights

PrivacyMark System