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Stochasticity Open Seminar June 28, 2017, 11:00

Open Seminars of the Research Group on


Stochasticity and Control in the Dynamics and Diversity of Immune Repertories: an Example of Multi-Cellular Co-Operation


Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 11:00

at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, Room 128




Immune balance: Towards a dynamic view of immune behavior


Bartlomiej Swiatczak (University of Haifa)


The last two decades of research revealed that mutualistic microbes play an important role in the maintenance and construction of the organism by engaging in a variety of developmental, metabolic and defense functions. Accordingly, the question of mechanisms that mediate tolerance to mutualistic microbes and rejection of pathogenic ones became of crucial importance. Despite significant efforts to understand how the immune system tells friends from foes to permit survival of the communities beneficial to the organism, this discrimination remains elusive. Perplexingly, pathogens and commensals were found to stimulate the same types of immune receptors and to induce similar molecules, many of which are instruments of defense. In this presentation I refer to the century old notion of immune equilibrium to suggest that the essence of microbe-host relationship lies in its dynamics and that the role of the immune system is to sense and modulate this dynamic by promoting stable interactions with whatever the system encounters, including microbes, self-cells and foreign cells. From this point of view, the question of how mutualistic microbes are tolerated and pathogenic ones rejected cannot be separated from the question of how tolerance mutualizes microbes and rejection pathogenizes them.



Related Research Questions


  1. How does the immune system manage to protect the host from an infection if pathogens fail to exhibit structural features unique to them?
  2. How do host-derived and microbe-derived factors intermingle to establish the role of microbial colonizers as pathogens or commensals?
  3. How does the interdependence of IgA antibody populations and luminal microbial populations establish microbe-host mutualism?


Suggested Reading


Immune balance: the development of the idea and its applications

Swiatczak B. 2014

Journal of the History of Biology 47: 411-42.


Gut feelings of safety: tolerance to the microbiota mediated by innate immune receptors

Swiatczak B, Cohen IR. 2015

Microbiology and Immunology 59: 573-85.



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