Regulation and dynamics of T cell fate
Activated CD4+ T cells have the remarkable ability to differentiate into many different types of effector subsets. This diversification is required for the generation of specialized and pathogen appropriate T cell responses, as well as long-lived and protective memory T cells. Data from our lab have shown distinct influences of antigen affinity and antigen dose on CD4+ T cells responding during infection. How these differences are initiated at the T cell receptor signaling level and translated into diverse cell fates is currently unknown. Although it is widely accepted that heterogeneous T cell differentiation can arise from a single activated T cell, the underlying mechanisms for fate diversification have not been identified. The focus of our work is to understand: how do individual T cells give rise to progeny with such diverse fates? We are using several infection models as well as complementary in vitro microscopy approaches to assess the dynamics and flexibility of T cell differentiation.
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