Science Sunday #1

Science Sunday #1

One of the most important things to do as a scientist is to keep up with other research going on in the field.  It’s easy to lose track of what’s going on outside of the little bubble that is your own research project, but it’s important to keep what you’re doing in perspective and learn about other advances being made in the field, whether or not they relate directly to what you’re doing.

On a related note, I think it’s important for the public to know what’s going on in science, and why basic research is important.  Scientific research doesn’t have the best reputation at the moment, and for faulty reasons.

The idea behind Science Sunday is to share a recent article (or two), generally related to immunology, plus some information about important concepts mentioned in the article, to help expand your knowledge of the field whether you’re a scientist or not.  I imagine over time that this will be a mix of news articles, posts from other blogs, and scientific journal articles.

The article I chose for this week is:
Antibody machinery ‘can misfire and cause leukaemia’ – from BBC News, 12 January 2014

Important concepts:
“The machinery used to produce millions of antibodies in the immune system…”: V(D)J Recombination

  • Lymphocytes are T or B cells.  This article focuses on B cells.  B cells make antibodies.
  • Each B cell makes just one type of antibody.  Together, all the B cells in our body can make millions of different types of antibodies.
  • The V(D)J regions of DNA that aren’t chosen to be part of each B cell’s antibody get permanently deleted from the cell.
  • The proteins in the cell that are responsible for deleting the unchosen V(D)J regions can go awry and delete other regions of DNA that are important for the cells to function normally.  This article states that this malfunction can lead to leukemia.
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