Mammalian barrier tissues such as the skin or intestine are colonized by diverse microbial organisms, living in a state of mutual benefit with the healthy host. However, beneficial bacteria share molecular patterns with pathogens, such as cell wall components or flagella. Thus distinguishing pathogens from commensals and reacting appropriately to infection represents a challenge to the immune system, especially at barrier tissues where both are present. The reaction of an epithelial cell to pathogen assault represents the first decision of the ensuing immune reaction. In the Rauch lab we aim to understand this decision making process and its consequences for infection and inflammation.
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