Immune cells play a critical role in establishing and maintaining whole organism health. Aberrant immune cell function underlies a host of diseases ranging from immunodeficiency to autoimmunity. As a model system for cellular differentiation, immune cells have the unique task of existing in a naïve state during homeostasis and have the capability to further differentiate after exposure to pathogens or immune insults.
Intriguingly, many immune cells possess inherent flexibility in their naïve state so that upon insult they can choose a variety of functional outcomes that are appropriately tailored to the needed response. The most well-studied cell that exhibits these properties is the CD4 T cell, which upon activation can differentiate into several subsets that have unique functions. These fates are determined by appropriate activation and expression of specific transcription factors.
Currently, our lab is focused on understanding how the transcriptional repressor Blimp-1 contributes to T cell differentiation and function using novel model systems and NextGen Sequencing technologies as a model system for how transcription factors can alter immune cell differentiation and function.
Affiliated Faculty and Staff
- Amanda Poholek, PhD - Principal Investigator
- Angela Hettinga - Lab Technician
- Kun He, PhD - Postdoctoral Scholar
- Rhodes Ford - Program in Microbiology and Immunology Graduate Student
- Elizabeth Schmitz - Undergraduate Student
- Shivani Pandya - Undergraduate Student