Thymus uses RNA molecules to generate list of friendly proteins that T cells should not attack

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

August 2, 2022 -- Research from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has identified the RNA molecules used by the human thymus organ to generate a list of friendly proteins that T cells should not attack, a discovery which may lead to improved immunotherapies and treatments for autoimmune disorders and cancer.

When T cells mistakenly identify healthy proteins as foreign, it can lead to autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis or diabetes. However, an article published August 2 in the journal Nature Communications provides a new list of friendly proteins available in an interactive online database to help other researchers better understand these diseases and how they are treated.

"As a resource, we provide an interactive public interface for exploring [medullary thymic epithelial cells] transcriptomic diversity. Our findings therefore help construct a map of transcriptomic diversity in the healthy human thymus and may ultimately facilitate the identification of those epitopes which contribute to autoimmunity and immune recognition of tumor antigens," the study's authors state.


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