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Halloween Mystery Immune System Party

Bio-Rad
Oct 26, 2015

Can you tell the true identity of our ghoulish Halloween characters? We have a selection of mouse immune cells that have decided to dress up this Halloween, but who are these cells really? They have left some clues to help you discover their identity.

[To reveal the answers: Highlight inside any of the green boxes under each Halloween cell character]

Lady Abundant

Mrs. Engulfer

Neutrophils

Macrophages

Col. Antibody

Prof. Exposer

B cells

Dendritic Cells

Sir Killer

Dr. Regulator
and Mr. Doom

Natural Killer Cells

Regulatory and Cytotoxic T cells

 


More about these immune cells

Lady Abundant

Mrs. Engulfer

Neutrophils

Macrophages

Neutrophils are the most abundant white blood cell in mice and humans. They are the first responders to the site of an infection, and their main role is to recognize and kill foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. Similar to macrophages, they perform phagocytosis to engulf and destroy pathogens. Consider them front line soldiers in the army that is the immune system.

The main role of macrophages is to engulf and digest cell debris, bacteria, or cancer cells. Their role is accurately described in their name which literally means "big eaters" from the greek words makros "large" and phagein "eat". They don't just eat however; they are also involved in wound healing and immune regulation.

Col. Antibody

Prof. Exposer

B cells

Dendritic Cells

B cells are key members of the adaptive immune system. One of their main roles in the defense against pathogens is to produce antibodies. Antibodies bind specifically to pathogens to neutralize them and also help other immune cells such as NK cells or neutrophils kill foreign invaders.

Dendritic cells are sentinels of the immune system, and are strategically placed to detect invaders. Upon encountering bacteria or viruses dendritic cells process the invading pathogen and present them on their cell surface to naive T-cells to prime them for killing.

Sir Killer

Dr. Regulator
and Mr. Doom

Natural Killer Cells

Regulatory and Cytotoxic T cells

As the name suggests, NK cells are specialized killer cells whose main goal is to kill certain types of target cells. They utilize similar mechanisms to cytotoxic T cells that involve the release of small granules located in their cytoplasm that puncture holes in nearby invader cells to release proteins called granzymes that induce apoptosis. They also secrete molecules called cytokines that help to kill the target cells.

Regulatory (Tregs) and cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) have opposing roles in the immune system. Tregs mainly function to maintain immune cell homeostasis. Essentially, they maintain the order and keep the immune system in check. Tregs can be considered "peacemakers" whereas CTLs are killers that exhibit exquisite specificity for the target, and often function to kill virus infected or cancer cells.

 

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