Scientists from A*STAR’s Bioprocess Technology Institute (BTI) have uncovered two crucial signaling molecules, DOK3 and SHP1, involved in the development and production of plasma cells which help the human body fight against pathogens. The antibodies secreted by plasma cells are key to the body’s immune system and its ability to defend itself against pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses. Proper maintenance of a pool of plasma cells is critical for the establishment of lifelong immunity elicited by vaccination. The two new findings were published in PNAS and Nature Communications. The findings help us to understand plasma cells and the antibody response, and may lead to optimization of vaccine development and improved treatment for patients with autoimmune diseases such as lupus and tumors such as multiple myeloma.
The molecule DOK3 was found to play an important role in formation of plasma cells. The absence of DOK3 would thus result in defective plasma cell formation. SHP1 signaling was found to be important for long term survival of plasma cells. While the molecule SHP1 has a proven role in prevention of autoimmune diseases, it was found that the absence of SHP1 would result in the failure of plasma cells to migrate from the spleen to the bone marrow, a survival niche where they are able to survive for much longer periods.
The above story is based on materials provided by A*Star Agency for Science,Technology and Research
Full details of the discovery can be accessed online at the following links: