The regulation and function of innate-like T cells

The Boyson laboratory is interested in understanding the role of innate-like T cells (NKT, gd T, and MAIT (mucosa-associated invariant T)) cells in the host immune response. These unusual T cell subsets preferentially home to peripheral tissues such as the lung, skin, gut, and liver—sites where there is a  high likelihood that they will encounter a pathogen. We are especially interested in identifying how natural genetic variation among individuals affects the function of these unusual T cells, the resulting host immune response and ultimately, disease outcome.


A host genetic locus that regulates susceptibility to infectious disease

Our genetic makeup affects how our immune system responds to different infectious agents. Yet, while the host immune system response to infection is clearly influenced by inherited traits, we still do not have a clear understanding of how host genetic regulation of the immune response ultimately affects disease outcome. 

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The Role of Slamf6 on NKT Cells

The Slam family receptors, Slamf6 (Ly108) and Slamf1, have previously been demonstrated to be critical in NKT cell development. In mice that are only deficient in Slamf6, NKT cells develop, but there are fewer of them, and their numbers are particularly low in the liver. In addition, it has been demonstrated that the absence of NKT cells in SAP-deficient mice is due to negative signaling from the Slamf6 receptor. 

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Genetic regulation of NKT cells

NKT cells are unusual innate-like ab T cells that recognize glycolipids and glycosphingolipids presented by CD1d. We and others have demonstrated that NKT cell number and function is highly variable among different host genetic backgrounds. We use a variety of genetic models to understand how and whether this genetically-regulated variability affects the host immune response...

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