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Innate Immune Mechanisms: Nonself Recognition

  1. Ben JC Quah,
  2. Christopher R Parish

Published Online: 15 NOV 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001211.pub3



How to Cite

Quah, B. J. and Parish, C. R. 2010. Innate Immune Mechanisms: Nonself Recognition. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 NOV 2010

This is not the most recent version of the article. View current version (14 AUG 2015)


The initial defence of the body against pathogens relies on the innate immune system. The innate immune system recognises unique molecular patterns expressed by pathogens, referred to as pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs), through receptors known as pattern recognition molecules (PRMs). PRMs are a diverse range of cell-bound and soluble proteins that sense extracellular and intracellular pathogens and induce a number of responses to help aid in their destruction including phagocytosis through opsonisation, cytokine production and activation of complement. In addition to pathogen sensing, host cells express proteins, the complement regulatory proteins, that protect them from attack by the alternative pathway of complement activation, whereas foreign organisms lack these protective proteins and are, therefore, susceptible to complement attack.

Key Concepts:

  • The innate immune system recognises pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) that are unique to pathogens.

  • Cells of the innate immune system express a large range of pattern recognition molecules (PRM) that bind to PAMPs.

  • Host cells express complement regulatory proteins that protect them from attack by innate mechanisms.


  • innate immunity;
  • self–nonself discrimination;
  • lectins;
  • collectins;
  • pattern recognition molecules