Research NewsImmunology

Simple Mice Test Antibody Complexity

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Science  14 Jun 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5268, pp. 1585
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5268.1585


The world, from an immune system's view, is filled with enemies: a mind-boggling multitude of bacteria, viruses, and parasites just waiting to pounce. And the system has to maintain a staggering range of antibodies tailored to take on these threats. Just how it does so is something of a puzzle. And the intricacy of the immune system makes the answers hard to come by. Now researchers have simplified things. On page 1649, scientists report that they've genetically altered mice so the animals are born with the ability to make only a few antibody types that recognize just one invader, or antigen. Yet these so-called “quasi-monoclonal” mice developed a near-normal repertoire of antibodies as they grew, clearing the way for scientists to explore possible mechanisms that create such diversity.