Luck of the draw

by Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen

When something gets uncomfortably close to you - in whichever way it may be - you will seek to fend it off. By walking away, choosing to ignore it, using physical force or, if it is a person, perhaps verbal abuse. In the same vein, across all kingdoms, organisms have developed a multi-faceted system to fight off the more invisible world of microbial infection: the immune response. The immune response is the arsenal an organism has at its disposal to neutralise invading entities such as viruses or bacteria for instance - and the more complex the organism the more intricate the system seems to be. Despite this, the types of armament provided are only really of two sorts: cells or molecules. Any immune response to infection is an unfathomable combination of both; there being many different kinds of immune cells and myriads of immune molecules. Sometimes, too, genetic inheritance can further fine-tune an individual's reaction to a given infection. In this light, researchers discovered that human individuals who have acquired a specific isoform of a certain protein, known as 2'-5'-oligoadenylate synthetase 1 or OAS1, seem to be less prone to developing the severe form of COVID-19.

Protein Spotlight (ISSN 1424-4721) is a monthly review written by the Swiss-Prot team of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. Spotlight articles describe a specific protein or family of proteins on an informal tone. Follow us: Subscribe · Twitter · Facebook

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A little bit of praise!

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Your articles are very well written, lucid, and contain just enough information to excite the reader to want to learn more about the topic being discussed. They fall in a very rare category where they are accessible to everyone, from the undergraduate students to research students who want to have a basic idea of the topics being discussed. Some of your articles, like "Our hollow architecture" and "Throb" are outstanding pieces.

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— Rohan Chaubal, Senior Researcher in Genomics

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