Immune cells are remarkable for their extraordinary sensitivity to antigen. Our lab studies the molecular mechanisms that underlie this behavior, to explain how immune cells are able to mount potent responses to minute quantities of foreign antigens while ignoring related “self” antigens. This question is studied in T cells, the central arm of the cellular immune system, and in mast cells, an important mediator of allergy.
Cells employ tightly regulated signal processing mechanisms to integrate and interpret information about the presence of antigens, resulting in a cellular decision about how to respond. Specialized signaling proteins, known as adaptors, play an essential role in this process and are the focus of the lab’s research. We use a variety of biochemical and genetic approaches, including mouse models and somatic cell genome editing techniques, to explore the ways in which adaptor proteins fine-tune immune sensitivity and selectivity