Re: [asa] PSCF article on immune system

From: Dennis Venema <Dennis.Venema@twu.ca>
Date: Fri Dec 04 2009 - 14:44:50 EST

A few comments here.

Antibody formation is indeed based on the random shuffling of many equivalent gene "segments", as well as random point mutations thrown in to increase that diversity. Indeed, this randomness is essential to the system for generating diversity. The immune system doesn't need to "wait" for the "right" antibodies. Cells making antibodies that have at least some binding activity are positively selected for rapid division, and the precise antibody it is making is then subjected to random mutation in the descendent cells. From this second generation, cells producing antibodies with better binding are again selected, and so on.

Just like with evolution, there is a random component, and a very NON-random selection component. Works wonders.

Dennis

On 04/12/09 11:08 AM, "Bill Powers" <wjp@swcp.com> wrote:

With 10^10 possible antibodies, it would seem impossible for a random
system to work. We would all die long before the appropriate antibodies
were found in this haystack. This means that, while randomness may very
well be a crucial part of the system, it cannot be the central governing
process.

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Received on Fri Dec 4 14:42:11 2009

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