Dynamic migration and signaling of thymocytes undergoing agonist and conventional T cell selection throughout ontogeny

 

Heather Melichar

Centre de recherche de l'Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont

 

Domaine : maladies infectieuses et immunitaires

Programme chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 1

Concours 2014-2015

The immune system is composed of specialized cell types, each of which play a unique role in combating disease. One of these cell types, T cells, develops in the thymus and can recognize, as well as help eliminate, foreign pathogens and tumors, while ignoring normal cells. When this process goes awry, devastating autoimmune diseases such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis can develop. Another subset of cells, known as ¿regulatory T cells¿, helps to keep these ¿run away¿ T cells in check. Hence, different T cell subsets could be used to treat a number of diseases, from infection and cancer, to autoimmunity.

However, there are significant gaps in our understanding of basic T cell biology, as well as a lack of primary T cells available for therapeutic use. To address these deficits, we will determine how T cells interact within the thymus and identify factors that control their development. Successful completion of these projects will significantly increase our understanding of how human T cells develop and also inform future protocols to efficiently generate T cells for therapeutic use.