New Delhi: Macrophages – derived from the Greek word meaning large eaters’ – are one of the sentinels of human immune system that engulf pathogens and degrade them and also alert other sentinels about presence of foreign pathogens. However, in some cases uncontrolled or hyper-activation of macrophages can cause cancer or autoimmune disorders.
Researchers are trying to shed light on how macrophages get activated so as to help control such problems. Scientists at the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), Chandigarh have found that a protein called Arf-like (Arl) GTPase-11(Arl11) activates macrophages in response to pathogenic stimuli. In a paper published in Journal of Biological Chemistry, they have reported that the protein is essential for macrophages to kill foreign pathogens.
“We worked on this particular protein as previous studies had found it to be missing in tumour cells but its function was not known. We were surprised to know that it is expressed in many immune cells including macrophages, and therefore set out to know what would be the function of Arl11 in macrophages,” said Dr Amit Tuli, who led the research team.