Maintaining Diplomatic Relations Between Mammals and Beneficial Microbial Communities

Sci. Signal.  24 Nov 2009:
Vol. 2, Issue 98, pp. pe77
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.298pe77

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The first reports of diplomatic relations between human communities date back to the 14th century B.C.E. and the age of the Egyptian pharaohs. However, the evolution of analogous relations between mammals and mutualistic microbial communities is as old as multicellular organisms themselves. A fundamental issue surrounding the biology of these mutualistic relationships is how the immune system recognizes beneficial microbes and tolerates their colonization of barrier surfaces while simultaneously preventing their outgrowth and potentially lethal dissemination throughout the host. New evidence provides insight into the molecular mechanisms that orchestrate diplomacy between the mammalian immune system and bacterial communities in the gut.

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