Lunatic and Manic Proteins Sweeten Immune Cells

    SickKids researchers have discovered a molecular interaction that
    controls the development of immune cells in the spleen

    TORONTO, Feb. 12 /CNW/ - The spleen is a little talked about organ that
has a big job. It helps clear away bacteria and other infections that get into
the blood. All the blood is filtered through the spleen, where there are
special immune cells called Marginal Zone (MZ) B cells. These MZ B cells help
get rid of bacteria. Dr. Cynthia Guidos, SickKids Senior Scientist and
Professor in Immunology at the University of Toronto and Dr. Sean Egan, Senior
Scientist and Associate Professor in Medical Genetics and Microbiology at the
University of Toronto, found an important molecular interaction that controls
the development of the MZ B cells. Their findings are published today in the
on-line edition of Immunity and will be published in the Feb 20 print issue.
    In the spleen there are molecules called Notch2 and Delta-like-1 (DL1)
that fit together like a lock and key. Together Notch2 and DL1 prompt the
development of MZ B cells, but they seem to have a weak connection.
    "These two molecules don't seem to interact strongly, but now we have
shown that sugar molecules act like glue and make them fit together more
tightly," says Dr. Guidos.
    These sugar molecules are put in place by enzymes called Lunatic and
Manic Fringe.
    Understanding how MZ B cells are created is the first step to
understanding how they secrete antibodies to fight bacteria. MZ B cells are
needed to prevent sepsis (blood infections), and patients who have had their
spleen removed are at higher risk of developing sepsis.
    The research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research,
Canadian Cancer Society, the SickKids Foundation, and SickKids Restracomp

    The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), affiliated with the University
of Toronto, is Canada's most research-intensive hospital and the largest
centre dedicated to improving children's health in the country. As innovators
in child health, SickKids improves the health of children by integrating care,
research and teaching. Our mission is to provide the best in complex and
specialized care by creating scientific and clinical advancements, sharing our
knowledge and expertise and championing the development of an accessible,
comprehensive and sustainable child health system. For more information,
please visit SickKids is committed to healthier children for
a better world.

For further information:

For further information: Matet Nebres, The Hospital for Sick Children,
(416) 813-6380,

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