Singapore scientists learn the art by which the body fights

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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.

Figure: Significant reductions in the number of plasma cells in the spleen and bone marrow were observed in the absence of DOK3. Each dot in the figure represents one plasma cell detected.
Figure: Significant reductions in the number of plasma cells in the spleen and bone marrow were observed in the absence of DOK3. Each dot in the figure represents one plasma cell detected.
Figure: Plasma cells (red) while continuing to be produced in the absence of SHP1, are scattered (bottom image) and provide the first hint of inability to migrate to the survival niche of the bone marrow. The top image depicts normal plasma cells that contain SHP1.
Figure: Plasma cells (red) while continuing to be produced in the absence of SHP1, are scattered (bottom image) and provide the first hint of inability to migrate to the survival niche of the bone marrow. The top image depicts normal plasma cells that contain SHP1.

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:

http://bit.ly/1Cjuq2V 

http://bit.ly/1a2Dz6R

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Scientist-entrepreneur-manager-journalist: -Co-founder, Author; Former Assistant Editor and Director, Biotechin.Asia, Biotech Media Pte. Ltd.; -Founder & CEO, SciGlo (www.sciglo.com); -Programme Management Officer, SBIC, A*STAR (former Research Fellow). --Sandhya graduated from University of Madras, India (B.Sc Microbiology and M.Sc Biotechnology) and received her Ph.D from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She worked on oxidative stress in skin, skeletal, adipose tissue and cardiac muscle for a decade from 2006-2016. She is currently working as a Programme Management Officer handling projects and grants at Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Earlier to this she was a Research Fellow in the Fat Metabolism and Stem Cell Group at SBIC. Sandhya was also the Vice President and Publicity Chair of A*PECSS (A*STAR Post Doc Society) (2014-2016). Recently she founded a platform for scientists - SciGlo (www.sciglo.com) and is a startup mentor at Vertical VC (Finland). She is an ardent lover of science and enjoys globe trotting and good vegetarian food.

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