Elegant constrictions in a cellular kill switch

04 May, 2021

The inner workings of a “self-destruct switch” present on human cells that can be activated during an immune response have been revealed. In unprecedented detail, KAUST scientists with collaborators in China report the 3D atomic structure of the human PANX1 protein, which may help underpin new therapies that target the immune system.

When cells become infected with a pathogen, the body’s immune system works to destroy the infected cells before they become a threat to surrounding tissues. This form of cell death, during which a cell releases potent danger signals to recruit immune cells, is known as pyroptosis.

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The protein PANX1, which plays a crucial role in the human body's immune system, has been described in unprecedented detail.
© 2021 Zhang et al.