Professor Doreen Cantrell CBE FRS FRSE FMedSci
Analysis of signal transduction pathways that control T lymphocyte metabolism, migration and differentiation
The laboratory explores how antigen receptors and cytokines control the development and immune activation of T lymphocytes; key cells in the adaptive immune system. The strategy is to rigorously interrogate T cell biology at the fundamental level of biochemical signal transduction. The integration of mouse molecular genetics, cell biology and microscopy is then used to define the contribution of a particular biochemical pathway to T cell activation. This work has defined how thymocytes and T lymphocytes use networks of guanine nucleotide binding proteins and serine kinases to interpret information from antigens and cytokines to make appropriate responses that control T cell development and peripheral T cell function. The laboratory has made considerable progress mapping serine/threonine kinase mediated signaling pathways in thymocytes and peripheral T cells and has identified essential regulators of T cell metabolism, cytotoxic T cell effector function and CD8 T cell migration/trafficking.
The future research program will adopt a multidisciplinary approach and combine biochemistry, cell biology and in vivo mouse immunology to explore the how protein phosphorylation controls T cell function. A key focus is the regulation of the metabolism of normal and malignant lymphocytes. One important component of the work is a discovery based program to use high resolution mass spectrometry to systematically define the phosphoproteome of naïve and effector CD4 and CD8 T lymphocyte subpopulations. Phosphoproteomic analysis of cytotoxic T cells has already identified links between serine/threonine kinases and chromatin regulators; the future program will address how phosphorylation of these chromatin regulators controls CTL transcriptional programs and explore the role of key cytokines on the CD8 T cell phosphoproteome. This work will generate a molecular understanding of how signal transduction pathways control T cell function. In particular, the studies will provide new insights about pharmacological strategies that might manipulate immune responses to ensure effective vaccination and/or restrain the T cell pathology caused by effector T cells.