Immunology Caroling Lyrics

All lyrics written by Karen Ong for the KITP holiday party We omitted some songs and stanzas from the performance because they were too long or because they weren't very singable, but I've included them anyway for whatever amusement value they might hold. Feel free to correct or critique any immunological errors that might have crept in...

Jingle Bells, Immune Cells

To the tune of “Jingle Bells”

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
We were quite exposed
To viruses today!

Bacteria, infections
Proteins and some large antigens
On hands, through sneezes
Touches, wheezes, passing on our pathogens, hey –

Immune cells, immune cells, immune all the way
Oh what fun it is to fight in a B-cell, T-cell way, hey!
Immune cells, immune cells, immune all the way –
They protect when they select for antigens today, hey!

God Rest Ye Merry Lymphocytes

To the tune of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”

God rest ye merry lymphocytes
between infections poor
And give ye good long memory
of expansions long before
When populations rose and fell
to memory resting sure
To rise in response to peptides more
Peptides more
To rise in response to peptides more.

God rest ye merry lymphocytes
of populations small!
Stochastic loss removes the dross
till numbers truly fall
And death claims clones from in our bones
and gone are they all
then gone are these few clones one and all
one and all
then gone are these few clones one and all.

Joy to the Scientific Method

Joy to the world, the repertoire’s expression
Saves all us from infection!
In almost infinite expression,
during clonal, clonal selection;
genetic recombination,
and somatic hypermutation,
And affinity maturation in B-cells.

Joy to the world, the repertoire’s come
through clonal, clonal selection!
VDJ’s and junction switch
those base pairs mutate and twitch
from position to position
with a minimum of switching
To create the light and heavy chains affixing.

Joy to the world, parameter reviewing
And hours, and hours, of arguing!
Over the size of repertoire:
approximations new - galore!
till some begin to snore,
others head to the door
and we all are confused, confused more.

Joy to the world, enlightment’s come
not to all scientists, but some!
Due to some new calculation,
careful and slow approximation,
computer simulation,
immune experimentation
leads to understanding, and celebration.

Immune Cell Rock

to a modified version of “Jingle Bells Rock”


Immune cells, immune cells, immune cells rock
T-cells swing and B-cells ring
Snowing and blowing up cytokine fun
Now influenza season’s begun…

Double-neg thymocyte beta-chain twist
TCR presenting, rejecting in this
Gene shuffle in thymical cortex in there;
Pre-receptor pair!

What a heady time, what a deadly time
For TCR-MHC match
If you don’t quite catch, co-receptor latch
Too much or little is a capital crime…

TCRs, TCRs tune affinity
to self-antigen and MHC
mix and a-mingle in trinity
That’s selection rock!

[repeat tune for second verse]
After they inspect, you’ll die of sheer neglect
Or apoptose away
If survive, then you’ll live and thrive
to fight my flu viruses today

Immune cells, immune cells, immune cells rock
T-cells swing and B-cells ring
Snowing and blowing up cytokine fun
Fighting my infection has begun

Macrophages, MHCs, dendritic cells twist
Antigen presenting and rejecting in this
Dance in the lymph node together in there:
Activating pair!

What a heady time, what a ready time
for antigen-receptor match
Activate on sight, proliferate all night
And secrete all of your cytokines…

Giddy-up T-cells now it’s your time
To lyse cells ‘round the clock
Track and attack all the things that hijack
these cells of mine!

[repeat tune for last two verses]
What a ready time, what a steady time
for T-cell / virus fight
Death-signal when right, perforate on site
With all of your cell-killing enzymes

Innate cells, immune cells now it’s your time
To kill cells ‘round the clock
Mix and a-mingle in tissues of mine
That’s the T-cell, that’s the B-cell,
that’s immune cell rock!