Molecular coevolution: lessons from pathogen-immune system interactions

Apr 11, 2016Apr 12, 2016
PCTS, Jadwin Hall, Room 407
Event Description

Organizers: Vijay Balasubramanian (UPenn & CUNY), William Bialek (Princeton & CUNY), Serena Bradde(CUNY), Zhiyuan Li (Princeton), Armita Nourmohammad (Princeton), Ned Wingreen Princeton)

Coevolution, the process of reciprocal adaptation and counter-adaptation between interacting species is considered a key force in maintaining biological diversity. Rapidly evolving viruses, such as flu and HIV, drive the adaptive immune system of vertebrates to constantly change its configuration, and mount a specific response against pathogens. It is now possible to sequence the entire antibody repertoire of an individual together with the infecting viruses, and to monitor their co-evolution over time. Also, the recently discovered CRISPR-Cas mechanism in bacteria and archaea is another form of adaptive immunity, and provides an ideal setting for studying a molecular arms race between microbes in the lab. In contrast to the human adaptive immune system, CRISPR-mediated immunity is heritable, thereby keeping the memory of past infections beyond the lifetime of a cell. Although mechanistically distinct, coevolution of adaptive immunity in vertebrates and in prokaryotes may share common out-of-equilibrium dynamical features. One of the main challenges is to design informative experiments that together with theoretical modeling and inference could elucidate the unifying features of these coevolutionary systems. This workshop aims to bring together theoreticians and experimentalists to foster collaborations towards building predictive models for coevolutionary immune systems.