Introductory remarks

  • Michael Potter
Part of the Faseb Monographs book series (FASEBM, volume 3)


In multicellular systems the dif-ferentiation process has two interrelated but often separately studied components; the activation of special genes and the development of cellular specialization. The immune system, the model under consideration in this symposium, is no exception. Antibodies (or immunoglobulins) are controlled by a large number of structural genes that are expressed in perhaps the most highly specialized cellular system in the vertebrate organism. The elucidation of mechanisms whereby this differentiated function develops presents intriguing problems for both immunologist and developmental biologist. Many immunologists and, I am sure, biologists outside this field have been impressed with the seemingly new and exceptional mechanisms of cellular and gene differentiation in the immune system: e.g., clonal (VL, VH) specialization, the 2 gene:1 polypeptide chain relationship for immunoglobulin polypeptide chains, autosomal allelic exclusion, clonal selection, cell cooperation. These unusual mechanisms may have made the immune system at first an unattractive model for the developmental biologist; however as these processes become more familiar they can be appreciated for what they are: evolutionary exploitations of biological processes that have been modified to create a genetic and cellular system of defense for the vertebrate organism.


Complex Locus Special Cell Surface Developmental Biologist Myeloma Protein Multicellular System 
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Copyright information

© Federation of American Societies 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Potter
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Cell Biology, National Cancer InstituteNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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