How the production of antibodies is regulated, one cell at a time

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Each circle represents a different cell. Different colors are cells with different characteristics. The proximity between the circles represents the similarity between the genes used by these cells. This figure shows that the cells are divided into two large groups: the most mature (bottom right) and the most immature (left side). Credit: Saumya Kumar (iMM)

A study coordinated by Luís Graça, principal investigator at the João Lobo Antunes Institute of Molecular Medicine (iMM; Portugal) and professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon (FMUL), used lymph nodes, tonsils and blood to show how the cells that control the production of antibodies form and act. The results, published in Scientific immunology, reveal key aspects of the regulation of antibody production, with significant importance for diseases where antibody production is deregulated, such as autoimmune diseases or allergies.

In recent months, the importance of antibody protection induced by vaccine against infections such as COVID-19 has been highlighted. However, it has been very difficult to study the involved in the production of antibodies after vaccination, as this process takes place in the and not in the blood. To study this process, it was necessary to use emerging technologies for sequencing and identification of in each individual cell. “To understand the power of this technology, we need to keep in mind that all of our cells have the same genes. However, a cell like a lymphocyte uses a different combination of genes compared to a neuron. Therefore, after vaccination, when a lymphocyte initiates the process of controlling the production of antibodies, it will activate some genes and inactivate others. This is what we studied simultaneously for hundreds of cells, “he explains. Luis Graça.

The difficulty of the process can be seen if we remember that about 20 years ago the sequencing of the human genome required a large group of laboratories from various countries that benefited from a number of subsequent developments for more than ten years. Now, this sequenced genome is available for scientists to study gene activity in hundreds of independents. . Something that would have been impossible a few years ago. Saumya Kumar, the first author of the work, says: “When the study began four years ago, we did not have the necessary experimental tools and advances in technology have been extraordinary. The use of omics technology offered an incredible solution to this problem and I ended up using it “.

The information thus obtained allowed the researchers to study, in great detail, the genes and molecules involved in the regulation of antibody production. In this way, a wide range of opportunities opens up to try to manipulate some of these molecules to improve the production of antibodies in vaccines or to decrease the production of in diseases caused by them (such as autoimmunity or allergy).

Luís Graça says: “When the biological systems of our body are not properly regulated, a disease arises. It is the knowledge of the body’s regulation that allows us to correct these pathological situations by restoring the healthy balance of a well-regulated system.” .

This study also shows that science knows no bounds: the iMM group includes scientists of different nationalities, with different skills, from doctors to bioinformatics.


New types of blood cells function as indicators of autoimmunity


More information:
S. Kumar et al., “Bifurcation of the development of human T follicle regulatory cells.” Scientific immunology (2021). immunology.sciencemag.org/look … 6 / sciimmunol.abd8411

Provided by the Institute of Molecular Medicine

Citation: How to regulate the production of antibodies, one cell at a time (2021, May 28) recovered on May 28, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-production-antibodies- cell.html

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