Immunogenicity of microbial DNA

dG polynucleotides can form four stranded conformations which are recognized by the scavenger receptor of macrophages. Moreover, certain palindromic DNA motifs, with sequences rarely present in mammalian DNA, can activate macrophages as well as be directly mitogenic for B cells. The mito-genic effect occurs via interaction with presently unknown intracellular receptors following internalization. The presence of an unmethylated CpG core in the active motifs seems to be relevant to self-nonself discrimination; the CpG content is higher in bacteria than in mammalian DNA and cytosine is not methylated in bacteria. The possibility (still theoretical) exists that bacterial surface molecules could be converted into T-independent antigens by complex formation with a mitogenic DNA motif.

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