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We talk a lot about DNA & proteins, but do carbs do anything cool, besides turn in to fat?
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Well I wouldn't be writing this if the answer was no, so... YES! And because it's relevant to this image (of extracted carbohydrates) and my field of study, bacteria use carbs to, believe it or not, trick your immune system so they can infect you.
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If you've never seen a video of a white blood cell chasing down a bacterium, google that asap. If you have, did you wonder how your body can even recognize bacteria--or viruses--from its own cells? It's a more elegant process than you might think.
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Your body creates a repository of information about past infections. That is, your immune system remembers what it was infected by because it has a system built to memorize how the microbe responsible for that infection *looked*. How? Antibodies. These are proteins built from genes that randomly rearrange (think: slot machine of DNA sequence) in response to the acquirement of protein particles from a foreign invader (ex: bacterium). Special immune cells take foreign particles and show them to white blood cells (lymphocytes), warning of the invasion. The lymphocytes then undergo random DNA shuffling to create a new antibody that might be able to bind this foreign particle. This means every lymphocyte could land on the same sequence independently, or each have their own unique one! All will bind the same antigen. When the antibodies are correct, they are released and can bind the foreign molecule so the body can recognize and eliminate it.
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So... carbs? Bacteria are COVERED in them. Thus, it would make sense that our immune cells have built up a memory of these molecules. Being present on the bacteria cell surface, they're the first thing lymphocytes would see. So amazingly, bacteria have responded to this selection pressure by creating a bunch of variations to these sugars. The most virulent E. coli are actually referred to by their unique cell surface sugars. Curiously, it's harder to rearrange sugars into new structures than it is proteins. Any clue as to why they wouldn't just always use proteins to evade the human immune response instead? Share your thoughts 🤔

My favourite sign of the day. The amount of love, strength, and acceptance that I witnessed today was incredible 💪🏼💃 #womensmarch #lovetrumpshate #makeamericathinkagain

This march is. YUGE. 🙌🏻 #makeamericathinkagain

No matter who the GOP nominee is... #makeamericathinkagain #michellewarren #2020

What happened in Virginia yesterday cannot be ignored. I am frightened... You too? #makeamericaTHINKagain #makeamericaSMARTagain #love #peace #wtf

I march with the woman I love for the women I love and for all those who can't. ✌🏼❤✊🏽#WhyIMarch #StrongerTogether #WomensMarch #MakeAmericaThinkAgain

I hope everyone remembered to wear their NASA glasses when looking at the eclipse today! I don't think that memo reached the White House this afternoon!! 😂🌚🌝 #greatamericaneclipse #nasaglasses #blindpresident #makeamericathinkagain


Introducing the Make America _________ Again series at https://samshain.threadless.com . I tried thinking of things that would upset ol' President Snowflake. Enjoy! #MakeAmericaReadAgain #MakeAmericaBernAgain #MakeAmericaGayAgain #MakeAmericaThinkAgain #MakeAmericaLoveAgain

Seemed like the police were just waiting for any reason to do this. I think they just wanted to go home to dinner. #MakeAmericaThinkAgain

So many American Flag T shirts, so many unintentionally hypocritically funny signs behind him
#makedonalddrumpfagain #makeamericathinkagain

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