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Emmy Noether Junior Research Group - The role of follicular T-helper cells in T-helper cell differentiation, function and plasticity

  • Project Leader: Dr. Dirk Baumjohann
  • Affiliation: Biomedical Center, Institute for Immunology
  • Funding: since 2014

T-helper cells (Th cells) coordinate the cellular and humoral immune response against various pathogens. There are different subpopulations of Th cells that can be classified according to their functional properties. Thus the follicular T-helper cells (Tfh cells) are essential for the production of highly effective antibodies by B cells. If Tfh cells get out of control, this can cause autoimmunity and allergies. Interestingly, Tfh cells also appear to play a role in other Th cell-mediated immune responses, such as the generation of certain effector and memory Th cells. However, the exact relationship between Tfh and other Th cell subpopulations is still unknown. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small cellular RNAs that regulate gene expression and there is evidence that miRNAs are also important for Th cell differentiation and function. The proposed studies address the central hypothesis that Tfh cells are not only important components of the humoral immune response, but also of the cellular immune response. We will use molecular, cell biological and state-of-the-art genomic methods to answer fundamental questions about Th cell differentiation and plasticity, including the role of miRNAs and transcription factors in regulating the adaptive immune response. Our goal is to gain a better understanding of how Tfh cells are regulated at the molecular level and how they affect other Th cells. These new insights should contribute to the development of better therapies in which the function of Tfh cells can be reduced in autoimmune diseases and improved in vaccines.

Source: GEPRIS (Text), AG Baumjohann (Picture)