Biotech Updates

Plant Science Discovery Uncovers Ways to Improve Immune Responses

June 3, 2020

Texas A&M AgriLife researchers have identified an early immune response step that could have broad-ranging implications for crop, animal, and human health. The research could lead to positive impacts in both agriculture and medicine by uncovering new ways to improve immune responses, such as treating allergies and immune deficiencies.

The researchers conducted cellular, biochemical, genetic, and transgenic experiments on Arabidopsis, and results show the very first steps of Arabidopsis' immune response to a bacterial infection. In Arabidopsis' cell walls, specialized proteins watch for evidence of invasion and grab the flagellum, a bacterium's swimming appendage, as soon as they detect it. To send a message to the cell nucleus, the proteins use different approaches. According to the study, one approach is to attach a small protein, ubiquitin, to a messenger protein called BIK1. When the signal is relayed to the cell nucleus, the message is deciphered. Reinforcements are sent to the cell wall and beyond.

The rapid signal the team discovered might help monitor the immune response in humans. In agriculture, the discovery could help breed plants with stronger resistance to a broad spectrum of infections.

For more details, read Texas A&M Today.

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