Playing 'hide-and-seek' with factor H: game-theoretical analysis of a single nucleotide polymorphism.
As a part of the complement system, factor H regulates phagocytosis and helps differentiate between a body's own and foreign cells. Owing to mimicry efforts, some pathogenic microorganisms such as … Candida albicans are able to bind factor H on their cell surfaces and, thus, become similar to host cells. This implies that the decision between self and foreign is not clear-cut, which leads to a classification problem for the immune system. Here, two different alleles determining the binding affinity of factor H are relevant. Those alleles differ in the SNP Y402H; they are known to be associated with susceptibility to certain diseases. Interestingly, the fraction of both alleles differs in ethnic groups. The game-theoretical model proposed in this article explains the coexistence of both alleles by a battle of the sexes game and investigates the trade-off between pathogen detection and protection of host cells. Further, we discuss the ethnicity-dependent frequencies of the alleles. Moreover, the model elucidates the mimicry efforts by pathogenic microorganisms.
Date Published: 4th May 2018
Journal: J R Soc Interface