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Somatic hypermutation and affinity maturation
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The immune response is highly specific for each invader, and that’s because the cells of the adaptive immune response have unique receptors that can differentiate friendly bacteria from deadly pathogens by their unique parts - called antigens.
B cells can further enhance the diversity of their BCR repertoire using a process called somatic hypermutation, and the result is that the cells that emerge will have a stronger and more specific response to the antigen - and this is called affinity maturation.
When B cell receptors are initially created it’s done in the absence of antigen.
Somatic hypermutation and affinity maturation are two mechanisms by which the immune system can adapt to better recognize and neutralize pathogens. Somatic hypermutation is a cellular mechanism by which the immune system adapts to the new foreign elements that confront it (e.g. microbes), whereas affinity maturation refers to the process of increasing the specificity and strength of the interaction between an antibody and its target antigen to increase the effectiveness of the immune response.
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