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Why I opposed the idea of antigen processing


How does the immune response function?
Jan Klein Scientist
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But not many people actually even put it together, even at that time. For several years afterwards most people still thought that the IR1 controlled immune response is something unrelated to it. Okay, this was an explanation for K and D, but they always thought that the class II was something completely different and that it was functioning on a different principle.

[Q] Right, right.

But to me it looked like this is the apparent explanation, and since I was always favouring the similarity of the class I and class II, the principle similarity, then it seemed like it could be applied also in some way to the class II antigens, but how to specifically apply or how it could be explained with the class I and class II antigens was not clear to anybody, and for years still it would not be clear and was a lot elucidated then much later because many elements of the puzzle were still missing. It was not realized that there is a principle difference between the immune response channelled through class I antigens and class II antigens.

[Q] Of course...

This realisation came only later with... I mean it was the principle immunological question, what... how does the immune response function? And it came through studies which I originally thought were artefacts, I must admit, and studies that claimed there is so-called antigen processing. That means that macrophages or similar cells take up the antigen and destroy it into... chop it down into small pieces and that only these pieces are then used to mount the immune response.

Born in 1936, Jan Klein is a Czech-American immunologist who co-founded the modern science of immunogenetics – key to understanding illness and disease. He is the author or co-author of over 560 scientific publications and of seven books including 'Where Do We Come From?' which examines the molecular evolution of humans. He graduated from the Charles University at Prague in 1955, and received his MS in Botany from the same school in 1958. From 1977 to his retirement in 2004, he was the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biology at Tübingen, Germany.

Listeners: Colm O'hUigin

Colm O'hUigin is a senior staff scientist at the US National Cancer Institute. He received his BA, MSc and PhD at the Genetics Department of Trinity College, Dublin where he later returned as a lecturer. He has held appointments at the Center for Population and Demographic Genetics, UT Houston, and at the University of Cambridge. As an EMBO fellow, he moved in 1990 to the Max Planck Institute for Biology in Tübingen, Germany to work with Jan Klein and lead a research group studying the evolutionary origins of immune molecules, of teeth, trypanosomes and of species.

Duration: 2 minutes, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008