Dissecting the Cytokine Network
Cytokines are small proteins secreted by cells associated with the immune system. Some of these Cytokines are positive some are negative regulators of the function of the immune system. In the case of Infections, the choice of Cytokines secreted decides whether a particular infection can be eliminated or not by directing the Immune System. Under certain conditions, Cytokine secretion can lead to chronic diseases like inflammatory bowel disease or affect other organs like joints or heart.
WM is dissecting the cytokine network and determine which cells are producing or responding to a particular cytokine. One of our favourite molecule we are analysing is Interleukin-10. By inactivating the expression of Interleukin-10 in various cell types, we can determine the importance of a particular cell type in a given immunological response. By this approach, we could identify that T lymphocytes are the critical cells producing Interleukin-10 and thereby control the Immune system of the gut.
Understanding Cell Migration of Lymphocytes
Lymphocytes migrate in the immune system between different organ structures of the immune system. This migration behaviour is determined in part by homing receptor molecules present on the surface of the lymphocytes and by adhesion molecules present on endothelial cells guiding the entry of the lymphocytes into particular sites. By inactivating either the homing receptor genes or the adhesion molecules, we were able to understand the importance of these molecules for the lymphocyte homing process.
Searching for evolutionary mechanism shaping the repertoire of our immune system
The specificity of the adaptive immune system is predetermined in part by sequences in our genomes, which become expresses only after gene rearrangements in lymphocytes. We are searching for a mechanism that is guiding the evolution of these sequences, most likely selected by two major forces, fighting against infections and preventing autoimmunity