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Trends Ecol Evol. 2006 Jan;21(1):22-8. Epub 2005 Nov 22.

How do adaptive immune systems control pathogens while avoiding autoimmunity?

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98115, USA.


Immune systems face a daunting control challenge. On the one hand, they need to minimize damage from pathogens, without wasting energy and resources, but on the other must avoid initiating or perpetuating autoimmune responses. Finally, because pathogens interfere with immune function, immune systems must be robust against sabotage. We describe here how these challenges are met by two immune systems, the intracellular RNA interference system and the vertebrate CD8 T-cell response. We extrapolate from these two systems to propose principles for strategically robust control.

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