Biochemistry Online: An Approach Based on Chemical Logic

Biochemistry Online




Last Updated: 03/14/13

Learning Goals/Objectives for Chapter 5E:  After class and this reading, students will be able to

  • under development

F1.  Introduction to the Immune System

This chapter is under development. Some of it is collected from other chapters in Biochemistry Online. In this last chapter on binding, we will consider the daunting task faced by the immune system - to recognize all possible "foreign" molecules and react to them, either by targeting them for elimination, or, paradoxically, to recognize them but not react to them (a process called tolerance).  The same can be said of "self-molecules".  The immune system must recognize them but not respond to them, otherwise autoimmune disease might arise in which the body's powerful immune system targets self. 

It is virtually impossible to give an in-depth description of the immune system in a short chapter.  My goal is simply to illustrate how the immune system recognizes such a myriad of molecules and how, through signal transduction processes, it responds by becoming tolerant of the target, or promoting an immune response.   To accomplish this impossible task, I will brief cover the innate and adaptive immune system and their differences, and how some cells (macrophages in particular) in the innate immune system and cells (B and T cells) in the adaptive immune response recognize and response to target molecules and cells.  Emphasis will be given to recognition and sample signal transduction responses.   Much of the info presented here comes from ideas presented in a fantastic book written by Lauren Sompayrac, How the Immune System Works.   (2003, Blackwell Publishing.  ISBN:  0-632-04702-X)

Three lines of defense protect us from the "enemies", foreign substances (bacteria, viruses and their associated proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids) collectively called antigens.


Return to Chapter 5E: Immune System Recognition

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Archived version of full Chapter 5F: Immune System Recognition


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Biochemistry Online by Henry Jakubowski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.