Chapter 54 : Innate Immunity and Host Defense against Microbial Infection

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A principal function of the innate immune system is to perform broad-based surveillance for abnormal interactions between microbes and their hosts. Activation of innate immunity rapidly triggers a series of direct antimicrobial host defenses while simultaneously generating instructive signals, including chemokine and cytokine gene induction, that alert and mobilize a definitive adaptive immune response. Comparative genomic sequencing has revealed remarkable conservation of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) among diverse vertebrates and underlines a strong selective pressure to recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). Adaptive immunity relies on the great variability and capacity for random somatic rearrangement of gene segments to provide narrow, specific recognition of the molecular details of foreign antigens, as exemplified by antigen receptors expressed by B and T cells. Pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) are an expanding group of highly conserved molecules that detect the presence of pathogenic microbes. PRRs are transmitted to subsequent generations through the germ line and consist of various combinations of conserved modular domains that have broad specificities for structures that are unique to microbes termed PAMPs. TLRs are among the best-characterized PRRs and represent an essential first line of host immune defense. Several fungal PAMPs, including phospholipomannan and glucuronoxylomannan, activate MyD88-dependent host defense pathways, while beta-glucan, a major carbohydrate polymer of fungal cell walls, is recognized by Dectin-1, a member of the myeloid cell-expressed, NK cell receptor-like C-type lectin family. Rapid and dramatic advances in the field of innate immunity have considerable implications for the understanding of human immunodeficiency and susceptibility to infection.

Citation: Schnare M, Qureshi S. 2011. Innate Immunity and Host Defense against Microbial Infection, p 841-857. In Persing D, Tenover F, Tang Y, Nolte F, Hayden R, van Belkum A (ed), Molecular Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816834.ch54
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