New insights into pathogen recognition.
Quattroni P., Exley RM., Tang CM.
The Society for General Microbiology (SGM) Spring Conference covers a range of topics of microbiology and comprises mixed sessions including symposia, workshops, debates, offered papers and invited presentations from international experts. This year the SGM Conference was held 11-14 April 2011 at the Harrogate Conference Centre in Harrogate, Yorkshire (UK). The main aim of the meeting is generally to provide a variety of programs that reflect current knowledge on different topics and introduce the recent advances in general and applied microbiology. Aspects of microbial recognition and interaction with the host immune response were addressed during a session of the meeting, where leaders in the field highlighted how the immune system is designed to recognize and destroy microorganisms by detecting microbial signature molecules (pathogen-associated molecular patterns) via interaction with specific receptors. This article focuses on the current research on pathogen recognition by the host through the interaction with surface structures present on microorganisms, with particular interest on the family of lectins, an emerging area in the understanding of infectious diseases. Discovering the mechanisms used by bacteria to survive in the host environment and at the same time elucidating the processes by which the immune system interacts with pathogens is vital for the development of vaccines and the design of new therapies.