Elucidating Specificity Opens a Window to the Complexity of Both the Innate and Adaptive Immune Systems

Viral Immunol. 2020 Apr;33(3):145-152. doi: 10.1089/vim.2019.0186.


Science is a tedious and painstaking business. Many discoveries are considered incremental, individually not necessarily earth shattering, but collectively providing the critical broad framework on which pivotal insights can emerge. Transformational discoveries spring from this knowledge legacy of others and spur a fervent discovery process, often driven by technological developments. The seminal discovery of major histocompatibility class restriction I (MHCI) and its role in antiviral infections by Doherty and Zinkernagel in 1974 was one such discovery-the key that unlocked the treasure chest to the rich tapestry of the diversity of the immune system. An army of researchers have teased apart the different elements of the immune response, which now brings us to a deeper understanding of immune memory and protective immunity. In this process, it has uncovered a multitude of cell types that bridge the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system-blurring the line between these two branches-and ultimately fortifying the development of long-term immune protection.

Keywords: MHCI; T cell memory; cell types; immune protection; viral infections.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Allergy and Immunology / history*
  • Animals
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / immunology*
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Mice
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I