Tonegawa's research explained how the immune system can produce a vast
diversity of antibodies, each of which reacts with and counteracts the
effects of a separate antigen (a foreign molecule or microbe). Prior
to Tonegawa's work it was not known how the B lymphocytes (the cells
that produce antibodies) could with their limited number of genes produce
the millions of differently structured antibodies that are specific
to a comparable diversity of antigens. In the 1970s Tonegawa proved
in a series of experiments that approximately 1,000 pieces of genetic
material in the antibody-manufacturing portion of the B lymphocyte can
be shuffled or recombined into different sequences, the resulting variations
enabling the production of as many as one billion different types of
antibodies, each specific to a different antigen. A fundamental mechanism
in the immune system was thus revealed.
Main Page | About Us | All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. Timeline of Nobel Prize Winners is not affiliated with The Nobel Foundation. External sites are not endorsed or supported by http://www.nobel-winners.com/ Copyright © 2003 All Rights Reserved.