Natural killers have memory, too

New findings overturn longstanding dogma, could shed light on mysteries in immunity

Charles Choi
Apr 16, 2006
Natural killer (NK) cells can mount hypersensitive immune responses against specific antigens they have encountered before, the hallmark of adaptive immunity, scientists report in the May issue of Nature Immunology. These unexpected findings may overturn the longstanding dogma that adaptive immunity is limited to only T cells and B cells in higher vertebrates, according to study author Ulrich von Andrian at Harvard Medical School in Boston."It's like Christopher Columbus bumping into a new continent," Philip Askenase at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., who did not participate in this study, told The Scientist. During the study, von Andrian and his colleagues examined how mice responded to haptens, compounds that elicit immune responses when bound to carrier molecules such as proteins. Surprisingly, they discovered the bladders and skin of Rag2-deficient mice, which lack T and B cells, became inflamed -- indicating an immune response -- after recurring...

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