Research in our division focuses on understanding the molecular and cellular controls driving differentiation of immune cells. Cell differentiation is the process by which cells develop and mature to become more specialised. For example, a blood stem cell goes through a series of differentiation steps to become a T cell or B cell.
Our research aims to provide a basic understanding of how the immune system is formed and how it functions based on external and internal drivers. We are also interested in how microbes, such as viruses and bacteria, impact the immune system.
Our labs continuously produce new discoveries that have therapeutic and diagnostic potential for diseases of immune cell dysfunction, such as leukaemia, and autoimmune diseases like inflammatory bowel disease. It also has the potential for advancing vaccination and anti-viral strategies.
- Haematopoietic (blood) stem cell biology
- Lymphocyte development
- T cell responses to viral infection
- Terminal differentiation of T and B cells
- Understanding dendritic cell differentiation and function
We primarily focus on lymphocyte and dendritic cell (DC) differentiation. This research includes both the early steps in the differentiation of the lymphoid system from stem cells, and later differentiation steps in the peripheral body tissues such as skin or the gut.
Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the factors that control the later stages of lymphocyte and DC maturation into effector cells and how this impacts on the immune response. We will examine the extrinsic (cytokines) and intrinsic (transcription factors), and the epigenetic regulators of these processes. We will also bolster our expertise in human immunology by initiating projects aimed at understanding the production of blood cells by human stem cells, and the in vitro differentiation of human lymphocytes and dendritic cells.
The immune system is controlled by the coordinated activity of a handful of master regulatory transcription factors. Our research aims to investigate the functions of several such master regulators, PU.1, Pax5, c-Myb, Blimp-1, Id and E proteins in lymphopoiesis using conditional mouse genetics, GFP reporter strains, microarray analysis, in vitro progenitor cultures and in vivo pathogen infection models.
Dr Stephen Nutt (Division Head)
Scientific Coordinator: Kim McIntosh BSc(Hons) Mon MEnvSc Mon - contact Molecular Immunology Division