UC Davis symposium to highlight the remarkable similarities between the plant and animal immune systems

The University of California, Davis, will host two Nobel laureates for a symposium this month about the shared characteristics of plants, flies and people in terms of how they fight infections.

"Evolution of Common Molecular Pathways Underlying Innate Immunity" will feature the 2011 Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine, Jules Hoffmann of the University of Strasbourg, France, and Bruce Beutler of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas. Luke O'Neill, professor of biochemistry and immunology at Trinity College, Dublin and I will also give lectures.

The symposium is scheduled from 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, in the UC Davis Conference Center. Admission is free, with preregistration required online.

It will be the first symposium at UC Davis to highlight the remarkable similarities between the plant and animal immune systems. The discovery of a role for fly Toll and mouse TLR4 in immunity provided a structural link between receptors utilized by animals and those used by plants (eg. Rice XA21, flax L6 and tobacco N) to detect infection.

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[Bruce and I share more than an interest in science; my father (Robert Rosenthal) and Bruce's father (Ernst Beutler) were young cousins in Berlin in the 1920 and early 1930s. Their families fled the Nazi's and reunited in the US after the war. Listen to Bruce discuss XA21/Ax21 and our shared family history during his Nobel lecture last month (starts at 40:45)]

More on the Nobel discoveries, the history of plant and animal immunity and the XA21 cypher-breaking detection system can be found on my recent blog posts here and here.

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