C 3-Prof. für Immunchemie und Immunbiologie
Versbacher Str. 7, 97078 Würzburg
Research foci (and basic equipment-based research projects):
Immunoreactions generally depend on the interplay between lymphocyte subpopulations and specialised antigen presenting cells. Cross regulation is mediated by interactions between cell surface molecules and soluble mediators, the interleukins. Interaction between ligand pairs leads to the induction of signalling cascades which integrate into cell survival, proliferation and differentiation. Terminally differentiated B lymphocytes produce antibodies; differentiated CD4 helper cells produce sets of interleukins which control the quality and extent of immune responses.
In an optimally balanced immune system, cells recognising foreign antigens do not only have to be activated, these reactions also have to be terminated. A failure to terminate immune responses may lead to chronic inflammatory reactions and autoimmunity. An important role in keeping the immune system in check is played by CD4 regulatory T on the one hand and by the so called activation induced cell death (apoptosis) of activated T cells, elicited through death receptors.
We have been interested for many years in some aspects of the processes described above, particularly in the regulation of B lymphocyte differentiation to plasma cells by helper T cell derived signals. In particular, we are studying molecules regulating survival of B cells and induction of immunoglobulin secretion. With respect to T cells, we have been working on the function of IL-2 in maintaining T cell homeostasis. The importance of some of the molecules involved for immune regulation is studied using transgenic and knock-out mice. Alternatively, we study gene function by introducing genes or dominant negative mutants via retroviral transfer into cells cultured in vitro.