The course will focus on adaptive immunity. In contrast to the innate immune system, which is programmed to detect invariant features of invading microbes, the adaptive immune system employs antigen receptors that are not encoded in the germ line but are generated de novo in each organism. Thus, adaptive immune responses are highly specific and make use of very efficient mechanisms of somatic diversification to generate virtually unlimited repertoires of structurally diverse antigen receptors that are clonally expressed by lymphocytes.
The course will provide an overview of the two lymphoid lineages and will address the key features of the design principles of adaptive immune systems in vertebrates. The central themes of the first week will be then clonal selection of lymphocytes, the mechanisms of antigen recognition by B- and T-cell receptors, antigen presentation and MHC molecules, effector functions of T- and B-cells. During the second week we will focus on the dynamics of immune response to pathogens, with lectures that will cover the genetics of immune response, as well as the signaling mechanisms involved in T- and B-cell responses. The final lectures will consider AIDS as an example of diseases that are caused by failure of the immune response.
For the practical workshops, students will identify lymphocyte populations that respond to viral infections with the production of cytokines and compare several techniques such as cytometry versus Elispot. The role of each population will be studied by depletion of particular subsets.