Fluorescent signaling by immune cells

Immune cells can now be tracked in the body/ new insights into normal and pathological immune processes Autoimmune cells can now be closely observed in vivo. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology in Martinsried/Germany succeeded in engineering intact immune cells carrying a gene encoding a fluorescent marker protein and in introducing these genetically modified cells into the organism. These labeled immune cells can be traced and functionally analyzed at any location in the body (Nature Medicine, July 1999).

Traditionally, cell biological processes are studied in cultured cells in vitro. The results allow, however, only limited conclusions about the real behavior of the analyzed cells in the living body since decisive factors, like influences of the natural environment and the cellular milieu, cannot be mimicked in vitro. Therefore, there have been many attempts to study T cells directly in vivo. This approach requires, however, an unequivocal identification of the respective cells.

A suitable technique which allows such an identification now has been developed by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology in Martinsried/Munich. They infected a certain immune cell type, namely CD4+ T lymphocyte, with a recombinant retrovirus into which a gene for the green fluorescent protein (GFP) had been inserted. During the infection the gene is introduced into the stabily incorporated into their cells and genomes (Fig.1). In contrast technique resulted in almost 100% to previous approaches, this gene "fluorescent gene". The GFP gene is a transfer rate and in a life-long expression of the physiological part of the jelly fish Aand represents a unique biological equorea Victoria label: it shines green when exposed to UV light.

CD4+ T cells play a central role in the coordination of the immune system. Accordingly, they are involved in most immune reactions including those directed against body-derived tissues, so called autoimmun

Contact: Alexander Flügel

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