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Deciding to learn immunology by writing a textbook


Why I opposed the idea of antigen processing
Jan Klein Scientist
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I opposed this for two reasons, one was that the evidence that certainly was provided was not at all convincing, so it seemed to me that it was an over-interpretation but the other was that in my own laboratory, or rather Zoltan Nagy laboratory, we had data which seemed to indicate absence of immune response in the absence of antigen processing. So, there was controversy between the proponents of the processing and our group that there is no processing. I must say they were right, there was processing and then the processing was one of the clues that led to the realisation of the difference between the class I and class II. But that took a while... some time, and ironically the best evidence that, of course, processing was functioning, not only that but that it was a way of explaining the immune response channelled through the class II antigens and the best evidence came from a laboratory which was part of our institute. That was Hans-Georg Rammensee and his collaborators provided an explanation, which was by then already considered but provided evidence actually that the peptides that are produced through antigen processing actually bound to the MHC molecules and that this is what the immune response recognises, the peptide as a foreign particle or antigen and the MHC as its own. So the dual recognition was there and that the difference between class I and class II was in that class I, which used... which was used in response to viral antigens for example was of that kind because the viral antigens infect the cells and the antigen is associating inside of the cell already... the antigen is inside of the cell, whereas for the class II  antigen was taken up from the outside and process so that turned out to be the whole difference between the class I and class II channelled immune responses. So Rammensee made a very important contribution to the elucidation of the dual processing... dual processing of 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.

Tags: Zoltan Nagy, Hans-Georg Rammensee

Duration: 3 minutes, 35 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008