In an allergic reaction mast cells degranulate, but survive the process and can be reactivated to respond to a subsequent allergen challenge by mechanisms that remain unclear. In December Journal of Experimental Medicine, Zou Xiang and colleagues from Uppsala University, Sweden, show that the A1 gene is central to FcεRI-induced mast cell survival, while having no obvious role in mast cell development.

Xiang et al. used cultured murine mast cells and observed that A1-deficient mast cells released granule mediators similar to the wild-type control, but did not survive an allergic activation. In addition, sensitised A1-/- mice had fewer mast cells following allergen challenge, compared with littermate controls (J Exp Med 2001, 194:1561-1570).

"The challenge is now to determine whether A1 can be used as a target for the development of new allergy therapies. It is also possible that dysregulation of A1 in humans may...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!