This blog, known as it for taking up the cause of the underdog, was fortified by reading How Fungi Have Shaped Our Understanding of Mammalian Immunology in a recent issue of Cell Host and Microbe. Not only that, but this is an exceptional piece of reviewing. It’s short (a mere three pages), fun to read, and to the point.
So, what’s the case for fungi shaping our understanding of immunology? (Note the inclusion of “mammalian” in the title. A nice departure from the customary anthropocentricity). The author, Gordon Brown of Aberdeen, guides us through both early and late developments, starting with Elie Metchnikoff, the discoverer of phagocytosis who saw yeast cells being engulfed by the water flea Daphnia, through C-type lectins, Toll and Toll-like receptors, and intracellular signal pathways.
In the author’s words: …fungi and their components have long been known to influence immune function, and the contributions made from the study of fungal infections are often underappreciated. Well, here’s for trying.