Editing at the Crossroad of Innate and Adaptive Immunity

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Science  18 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5712, pp. 1061-1065
DOI: 10.1126/science.1105964

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Genetic information can be altered through the enzymatic modification of nucleotide sequences. This process, known as editing, was originally identified in the mitochondrial RNA of trypanosomes and later found to condition events as diverse as neurotransmission and lipid metabolism in mammals. Recent evidence reveals that editing enzymes may fulfill one of their most essential roles in the defense against infectious agents: first, as the mediators of antibody diversification, a step crucial for building adaptive immunity, and second, as potent intracellular poisons for the replication of viruses. Exciting questions are raised, which take us to the depth of the intimate relations between vertebrates and the microbial underworld.

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