Infected cells in the body break down proteins from pathogens. Using these protein fragments, they activate the immune system. A significant portion of these fragments are not created solely by cutting but also by sticking pieces together, researchers at the department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology discovered. They developed a method to detect ‘cut and paste products’ in proteins that activate immunity. Their publication recently appeared in the American journal Cell Reports.
Researchers Anouk Platteel and Alice Sijts and their colleagues successfully tested their method in a model for food poisoning, caused by bacteria. The method enables researchers to unravel the role of ‘cut and paste protein fragments’ in protection from infections, cancer and also in autoimmune diseases (when the immune system attacks the body).
Target for the immune system
“We now know that such protein fragments are indeed targets for the immune system”, says Alice Sijts, researcher at Immunology and coauthor of the article. “It would be great if we could now use this knowledge to develop future treatment strategies.”
You can read the full article here: Multi-level strategy to identify proteasome-catalyzed spliced epitopes targeted by CD8+ T cells during bacterial infection.
For more information about Alice Sijts’ research group, see Immunity of Microbes within the Cell.
You can also read this PhD message about Anouk Platteel’s research.