The immune system is dead! Long live the immune system!

Mike Clark mrc7 at
Wed Feb 23 11:05:06 EST 2000

In article <881vrn$suo$1 at>, Jamie Cunliffe
<URL:mailto:cunlij at> wrote:
> I have made a gross faux pas here in reading one thing and interpreting
> another - so anything I said earlier was irrelevant. I had in mind
> aggregated antigen not antibody. I simply presumed. My apologies. I
> have no current suggestions.
> Jamie

Hi Jamie,

No apologies necessary these areguments are very complex and it is easy to
make such a simple mistake.

Now if I have your attention I think this is a very important example.

Immunoglobulins are capable of being both 'antibodies' and 'antigens'. New
immunoglobulin sequences are arising in our bodies every day through
processes of somatic recombination and mutation. This represents an ever
changing point of reference for the immune system.

So using immunoglobulins as an example how does the body decide when to
view them as an antigen? This is a challenge as far as I can see for all
the metaphors; Self / Non-Self, Danger / No Danger, Mess / No Mess.

(Incidently the same type of argument can be made for T-cell receptors)

Mike                           <URL:>
 o/ \\    //            ||  ,_ o   M.R. Clark, PhD. Division of Immunology
<\__,\\  //   __o       || /  /\,  Cambridge University, Dept. Pathology
 ">    ||   _`\<,_    //  \\ \> |  Tennis Court Rd., Cambridge CB2 1QP
  `    ||  (_)/ (_)  //    \\ \_   Tel.+44 1223 333705  Fax.+44 1223 333875

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