Professor Stephanie Gras - La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science

Professor Stephanie Gras - La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science

Davis Auditorium
Start Time: 
Mon, 05/06/2023 - 11:00am
End Time: 
Mon, 05/06/2023 - 12:00pm

Postgraduate Seminar – Infection, Inflammation and Immunity Theme hosted by Sophia Davidson, Stephen Nutt, Dylan Sheerin


Professor Stephanie Gras

Head, Viral and Structural Immunology Laboratory, La Trobe University


Immune signalling from a Structural biology perspective


Davis Auditorium

Join via TEAMS

Including Q&A session


T cells, and especially cytotoxic T cells are at the forefront of the fight against viral infection. The killer cells are able not only to distinguish between self and foreign peptides, but also to engage in the fight to clear the viral infection by eliminating the infected cells. Our Lab is focused on understanding how T cell engage with viral peptide antigens, that are presented by highly polymorphic molecules called Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA). T cells have receptors on their surface called T cell receptor (TCR) that allow them to recognise the composite surface of the peptide-HLA complex.

Our overarching aim is to understand how TCR can “see” the antigen presented by HLA.

For this, we use structural biology, and more specifically X-ray crystallography to understand at the atomic level both peptide antigens presentation by HLA, and TCR recognition, both important to determine the quality of the subsequent immune response. We can then link the structural information with cellular assay and determine the strength and magnitude of the anti-viral response, providing the basis for peptide modification to reach stronger response or an understanding of viral mutation that led to viral escape.

In the case of viral infection for example it is important to understand how to best stimulate a T cell response that would be strong and sustain in time, to provide protection. For this we need to know which part of the virus is the most likely to activate T cells, as this could become effective target for vaccine. In addition, while viruses like SARS-CoV-2 are circulating and mutating, we need to have a better understanding of the potential risk for viral escape, not just from antibody, but also from T cells.

In the lecture we will cover some recent work on T cell recognition through a structural biology lens, and how this can help us better understand the interplay between viruses and T cells.


All welcome!