Coevolutionary immune system dynamics driving pathogen speciation

We introduce and analyze a within-host dynamical model of the coevolution between rapidly mutating pathogens and the adaptive immune response. Pathogen mutation and a homeostatic constraint on lymphocytes both play a role in allowing the development of chronic infection, rather than quick pathogen clearance. The dynamics of these chronic infections display emergent structure, including branching patterns corresponding to asexual pathogen speciation, which is fundamentally driven by the coevolutionary interaction. Over time, continued branching creates an increasingly fragile immune system, and leads to the eventual catastrophic loss of immune control.

K. J. Schlesinger, S. P. Stromberg, and J. M. Carlson
PLoS One
Volume: 9
Number: 7
Pages: e102821
Date: July, 2014
ICB Affiliated Authors: Jean M Carlson