Understanding Interactions in the Immune Synapse

Understanding Interactions in the Immune Synapse

The immune system’s T cells must be “taught” which targets (such as disease-causing viruses) to attack. Instructing the T cells is the job of immune cells called antigen-presenting cells (APCs). This information transfer occurs at the immunological synapse that forms when APCs present the appropriate antigen to T cells. The synapse is a complex network of numerous interactions between the two types of immune cells that determine what the T cell will target as well as the strength and duration of that immune response.

Andras Fiser, Ph.D., has received a five-year, $2.7 million National Institutes of Health grant to better understand the molecular interactions that occur at the immune synapse. He will use novel computational techniques to identify binding sites on the surface of APCs (some of them the targets of immunotherapies for treating cancer and autoimmune diseases) as well as the corresponding receptors on T cells.

Those findings will be fed into ProtLID, computational protein engineering technique developed by Dr. Fiser. Using ProtLID, he can alter receptor interfaces to change their specificity and design new immunotherapy drugs. Dr. Fiser is professor of systems & computational biology and of biochemistry at Einstein. (1R35GM136357-01)

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