Although researchers have suspected that dendritic cells can mount tailored responses in addition to a set of common responses, they havent had much concrete evidence to support this view. This DNA array study provides the first comprehensive evidence for such specific responses and offers snapshots of what such pathogen-specific responses look like at the genetic level.
"The knowledge that dendritic cells are able to sense and respond specifically to each pathogen could ultimately help clinical scientists detect the presence of particular pathogens and measure the nature of the immune response by looking for the signatures of pathogen-specific genes described in this study," says Whitehead Fellow Nir Hacohen, who led the study.
DNA array technology has already proved useful in diagnosing different types of cancers by detecting signatures of gene expression and may thus play a similar role for infectious diseases in the future.
By measuring the activity of many genes in these immune cells as they respond to pathogens, researchers hope to gain information about the strengths and vulnerabilities of the microbes and our own immune system during an immune response to infection. Such information coupled with more detailed studies of pathogen-specific genes will eventually enable the dev
Contact: Melissa Withers
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research