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Pathogen selection for HLA gene diversity and its consequences for autoimmunity and cancer immunotherapy

logo for Club EvMed: Virtual Evolutionary Medicine Conversations
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Tuesday, October 27, 2020
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1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Tobias L. Lenz
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Club EvMed

Join us for a conversation with Tobias L. Lenz of the Research Group for Evolutionary Immunogenomics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Ploen, Germany.

Pathogen-mediated selection is a major driver of human evolution in general and of immune gene diversity specifically. A key component of the adaptive immune system are the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes, coding for molecules that present antigenic peptides to immune effector cells. The exceptional polymorphism at the HLA gene is assumed to reflect the need for diverse antigen presentation. However, an optimal immune response requires a delicate balance of maximizing recognition of pathogens while minimizing damage to self tissue by the immune machinery. Here Dr. Lenz will discuss this evolutionary trade-off for individual HLA diversity and present some examples from his work on the role of pathogens in the evolution of HLA diversity, but also on its consequences for autoimmunity and its role in immune checkpoint blockade therapy against cancer, a striking example for the success of evolutionary medicine.

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