An investigation by the National Research Council (CSIC) has discovered a protein that allow differentiation of CD8 + cytotoxic T lymphocyte memory: N-ras protein. The finding has been reflected in the latest issue of The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

CD8 + T lymphocytes specifically recognize cells that are infected by a virus. Once identified, these leukocytes destroy them. When CD8 + T cells first detected the viral antigens, initiate a process of differentiation become effector lymphocytes immediate action, or memory lymphocytes, reserve, which protect the body much better against a second infection .

CSIC research has found that the absence of the N-ras protein prevents the differentiation of T cells into memory cells. The researcher of the Center for Molecular Biology "Severo Ochoa" (CSIC joint center and the Autonomous University of Madrid) Margarita del Val, responsible for the work, considered this finding "fundamental in the field of vaccination as it is based on the development of immunological memory. "

N-ras is a molecule previously known for its contribution to cell survival, as it is involved in the transmission of external signals to the cell interior. Conversely, if there is mutated becomes an oncoprotein that contributes to the development of cancer. For the researcher in the heart Salvador Ibarra, who also worked on the study, it "surprising that the main function of this potential oncoprotein is mediated by the differentiation of T lymphocytes in memory lymphocytes".

CSIC researcher says: "The next step should aim to clarify the impact of immunological memory to prevent trivial infections become chronic and more fundamental level, how they differ studying the different types of memory against pathogens ".

The research has been co-directed by the researcher at the Complutense University of Madrid Edgar Fernandez-Malave, and has had the collaboration of researchers from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III of Madrid and the Cancer Research Center of Salamanca, CSIC.

Salvador Iborra, Manuel Ramos, David M. Arana, Silvia Lázaro, Francisco Aguilar, Eugenio Santos, Daniel López, Edgar Fernández-Malavé, and Margarita Del Val. N-ras couples antigen receptor signaling to Eomesodermin and to functional CD8+ T-cell memory but not to effector differentiation. The Journal of Experimental Medicine. DOI: 10.1084/jem.20112495

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