14 June 2021
Photo: Lenz/Created with BioRender.com
Congratulations to Onur Özer, PhD student in the Research Unit for Evolutionary Immunogenomics, for his publication about the potential antigenic diversity of human pathogens!
In this peer-reviewed scientific study, Mr. Özer and his supervisor Prof. Tobias Lenz used bioinformatic approaches to investigate the protein variability of a wide range of human pathogens. These proteins are the basis for the antigens by which our immune system recognizes specific pathogens. In this study, the scientists from the just established Research Unit for Evolutionary Immunogenomics at the Universität Hamburg were able to show that there is hardly any similarity in the antigen repertoires among the different pathogens. This means that each pathogen challenges our immune system in an entirely new way, providing an explanation for the puzzling genetic variability of the so-called MHC molecules, which represent a key component of the immune system's ability to recognize pathogen antigens. This extreme genetic variability of the MHC molecules has likely evolved to keep up with the ever new or mutating pathogens.
Özer O. & Lenz T.L. (2021) Unique pathogen peptidomes facilitate pathogen-specific selection and specialization of MHC alleles. Molecular Biology and Evolution, msab176. Advance access. https://doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msab176