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Research Topics and Financial Support

My laboratory is interested in parameters of lymphocyte activation during an immune response in vivo. T cells are activated by antigen that is processed and presented by dendritic cells in lymphoid tissues. Dendritic cells mediate signals to T cells by way of a multitude of molecules and thereby critically influence their fate like apoptosis, proliferation, and effector and memory cell differentiation. The presentation of antigen as peptide-MHC complexes is the key factor in this process.

We are developing transgenic animals where antigen presentation by dendritic cells can be experimentally controlled in vivo. For CD4+ T cells we have previously found that antigen has to be presented throughout the expansion phase for effector and memory cell differentiation. For CD8+ T cells it has been reported that a short antigen pulse is sufficient for programming the complete response. We are currently characterizing a regulatable system for CD8+ T cells to compare the two T cell subsets in their requirements for antigen persistence and hope to learn more about the regulation of the cell cycle in T lymphocytes. It is likely that a deeper understanding of these issues will help us to make better vaccines and to interfere more specifically with autoimmune disease.

Financial Support:

DFG: OB 150/7-1 Mechanisms of CD4+ T Cell Exhaustion by Persistent Antigen and Chronic Inflammation