Salk Institute: Immune receptors amplify “invader” signals by turning into mini-machines

Researchers at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, have discovered how immune receptors use a protein to amplify “invader” signals and attack a biological intruder. The T cell receptor that detects the intruder activates and releases copy after copy of a protein called ZAP70, becoming a mini-machine. This discovery sheds light on how T cells identify and react to pathogens — something researchers have for decades struggled to explain — and could help scientists develop better treatments for immune-based cancer and autoimmune diseases.

The research is supported in part by the NOMIS Foundation, and the finding was published on Nov. 21, 2016, in Nature Immunology. More details can be found in the Nov. 21 release by the Salk Institute.

The Salk Institute has been a NOMIS partner since 2008.