Some Deep-Sea Bacteria Are So Strange, Our Immune Sensors Miss Them

Date: March 29, 2021

Source: Scientific American
Author: Stephanie Melchor

Like an expert moviegoer who can instantly recognize a director’s aesthetic signature in a new film, our cells have special sensors called pattern recognition receptors that fire up the immune system when they encounter common microbes’ molecular signatures.

One of these signature structures is lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a long chain of sugars anchored to the cell membrane of many types of bacteria. LPS is so iconic that many researchers assumed our bodies could recognize it from any microbe. But a new study reveals that there are strains of deep-sea bacteria whose LPS is essentially invisible to our pattern recognition receptors.

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