Friday, June 10, 2005

Immune cell dance remix

Okay, it's Friday afternoon, and this story looks good. This is another one of those science reports that creatively uses common language to describe complex science.

It looks so good, I am just copying part of the John's Hopkins medical center press release into this:

If a dividing cell's activity is a pop song, then the same process in an immune cell is an extended-play dance remix. The basics of cell division are the same in both, but there's a heck of a lot more going on in immune cells, Johns Hopkins scientists have discovered.

All dividing cells have to faithfully copy their DNA so that both new cells get the same information, and immune cells are no exception. But only immune cells must do some genetic rearranging -- a genetic "jam session" -- so they can make the endless variety of antibodies needed to fight infections and foreign proteins in general. If this recombination happens at the wrong time or interrupts the wrong genes, lymphoma, a cancer of tissues that make immune cells, may result.

Although the jam session itself -- the actual rearrangement of particular genes -- is well- studied and has an official name, V(D)J recombination, no one had ever tied its beginning or end to the process of cell division.

Writing in the June 10 issue of Molecular Cell, researchers from Johns Hopkins report that the band leader that normally launches the DNA-copying machinery to start cell division also brings the jam session to a close, intricately connecting the two processes.

Really, for those of you somewhat familiar with immune system science - it gives you an interesting picture!

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