When you read about the adaptive immune response, you are often told that the response is specific to each pathogen - that the response is tailored. My question is - to what extent is this really true? And if it is true, how is the response tailored?
I understand that the B cell receptors (and, consequently, the antibodies produced by plasma cells in response to a pathogen) are highly specific. A pathogen will bind specifically to a B cell receptor on a particular B cell and particular antibodies will be produced for that pathogen. Again, T cells are specific for each pathogen.
But, it strikes me that there doesn't seem to be that much variation in what antibodies do. Each antibody is particular to its pathogen, but all antibodies work by doing the same few things, e.g. opsonisation, or inhibiting viruses from infiltrating cells. Yes the antibodies may be specific, but to what extent is it true that the antibody will produce a specific response to a specific pathogen? I mean, does the antibody for staphylococcus affect staphylococcus differently from the way the antibody for listeria affects listeria?
Again, each CD8+ Tc cell is specific to its pathogen, but they then seem to go about killing their target pathogen in very similar ways - inducing apoptosis or lysis via perforin and various cytotoxins. So, again, would the CD8+ Tc cell for influenza respond differently to the CD8+ Tc cell for norovirus?