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Maintaining Maintenance

Protein HVEM is essential for T cell interaction with the intestine lining maintaining gut immunity

29 August 2022

Maintaining Maintenance

Regular motivational boosts are needed for any repetitive task. T cells, part of the immune system, patrol tissues in the body methodically, but what keeps them sticking to their job? Researchers interested in how T-cell behaviour is maintained (and occasionally skewed such as in irritable bowel syndrome patients) examined the interaction between T cells and intestine lining cells. They showed that a particular protein, HVEM, on the surface of the lining cells, was essential for T-cell performance. In particular, the basement membrane sitting just beneath the lining required HVEM to maintain collagen (green in the cells pictured) levels and proper structure. T cells (blue) interact directly with the basement membrane, and when HVEM was absent T cells patrolled less and the intestine was more vulnerable to infection. Further studies into how HVEM impacts gut microbes more widely will help provide insights into maintaining a healthy, well protected, gut.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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