Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene products play a key role in both acquired and innate immunity. MHC class I molecules are the restriction elements for TCD8+, whereas MHC class II are the elements recognized by CD4+ helper T cells (TCD4+). For class I molecules the peptides may be directly presented by the infected cell or cross-presented by antigen presenting cells that acquire antigen from infected cells. Given that MHC class I molecules are expressed on all nucleated cells, effector TCD8+ can respond against intracellular pathogens by production of antiviral cytokines such as IFNg and TNFa or cytolysis of infected cells. In the case of obligate intracellular pathogens (such as viruses) that depend on host cell machinery to propagate, lysis of infected cell can be a crucial step in preventing viral replication.
To this end our research interests are oriented towards understanding how professional APCs can orchestrate innate and adaptive immune responses in vivo during virus infection. Moreover, we aspire to better define the outcome of viral immune escape mechanisms on the host immune system.
Students interested in Immunology with good background in Virology, Biochemistry, and/or Cell Biology are encouraged to apply.