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Understanding Cancer Series

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  • Posted: 01/28/2005
  • Reviewed: 09/01/2006

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Slide 22


Activation of T Cells: Helper

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Helper T cells only recognize antigen in the grasp of Class II MHC markers. An antigen-presenting cell--such as a macrophage or a dendritic cell--breaks down the antigen it devours, then it places small pieces (peptides) on its surface along with a Class II MHC marker. By exhibiting its catch in this way, antigen-presenting cells enable specific receptors on helper T cells to bind the antigen and confirm (via CD4 protein) that an invasion has occurred.

After binding, a resting helper T cell quickly becomes an activated helper T. It assumes command of the immune response, giving orders to increase the number of specific antibody-producing plasma cells and the cytotoxic killer cells needed to quell the attack.

Activation of T Cells: Helper