NEW YORK, April 18 - Researchers from Exelixis and the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique have used the company's model mutagenesis approach to characterize a new biological pathway in the innate immune response.
In the work, documented in an article in the April 11 issue of Nature, researchers described the activity of the gene peptidoglycan recognition protein-LC in Drosophila. In response to bacterial infection, the researchers say, this gene triggers a pathway that activates a key inflammatory gene.
The two teams transformed a fly with a disrupted PGRP-LC gene, and the resulting organism was rendered vulnerable to Gram-negative bacterial sepsis, due to a malfunctioning immune response.
Because the gene is highly conserved, the researchers hope that the discovery may shed light on human innate immunity and inflammatory disease. The function of the homologue protein in humans has not yet been characterized.
Exelixis and CNRS researchers plan to continue studying the gene's role in the immune response with the goal of developing new drug targets for treatment of human inflammatory disorders, said Exelixis president and CEO George Scangos.