How do killer cells detach from target cells?

How do killer cells detach from target cells?

Project details

Cytotoxic lymphocytes are white blood cells which are essential eliminators of virus infected and cancerous target cells. They form an immunological synapse with their target and secrete toxic cargo, inducing target cell death. Killer cells then detach, and demonstrate an efficient ability for serial killing several targets in quick succession. 

It has recently been discovered by Jenkins et al (Jenkins MR et al. 2015. J Exp Med. 2015 Mar 9;212(3):307-17.) that there are some circumstances when the killer doesn’t ‘release’ from targets, causing severe immune dysregulation in the form of increased cytokine production and recruitment of inflammatory cell types. This project will identify the mechanisms of killer cell detachment and thereby novel targets for therapeutic intervention.

About our research group

Our lab is focussed on understanding the basic cell biology of killer lymphocytes. We use a broad range of techniques to understand signalling, killing, cytokine/chemokine production and the cross-talk between different cells in the immune system. Therefore, our interests combine basic immunological approaches to clinical settings of cancer biology.


Dr Misty Jenkins

Dr Misty Jenkins at a microscope
Laboratory Head

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