It's a key protective mechanism that the scientists want to better understand with the long-term goal of manipulating it to help keep us well, says Dr. Nagendra Singh, immunologist in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.
"We are trying to design small molecules that can either block or activate this pathway," says Singh, corresponding author of the study in the journal Nature Communications.
Pathway - Ufmylation - Pathway - Polypeptide - Call
The pathway is called ufmylation, and in this pathway, a polypeptide call Ufm1 is known to target other proteins, connect with them, and change their function. One of those proteins is Ufbp1, and investigators have learned that the Ufbp1 that emerges is key to both immune cells called naïve B cells becoming antibody-producing plasma cells and to plasma cells stepping up production of protective antibodies.
Better understanding how this natural protective mechanism works could ultimately help design better vaccines, the investigators write. In fact, current vaccines help prime B cells to have memories of certain invaders so they can more quickly respond, Singh says.
Increases - Ufbp1 - Pathway - Example - Day
Selective increases in this Ufbp1 or ufmylation pathway, for example, might one day yield an even more targeted attack on the flu virus.
Conversely, for allergy sufferers, selective intervention might stop the production of antibodies against tree and weed pollens that are already producing itchy, watery eyes and noses this year.
Reduction - Antibodies - Body - Autoimmune - Diseases
It might enable as well a reduction in antibodies the body inexplicably makes against itself in autoimmune diseases like lupus and arthritis. In fact, the scientists already are looking at making the adjustment in a mouse model of lupus.
They found that Ufbp1 suppresses the enzyme PERK to help B cells differentiate. Proteins have to be properly folded for any cell or body function to happen and PERK is part of the body's natural "unfolded protein response," to try...
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