Department: Molecular Pathology & Immunology
Faculty Mentor: Luc Van Kaer, Ph.D.
Dissertation Description: Role of Autophagy in the Development and Selection of T Cells
A healthy immune system depends on the generation of a functional T lymphocyte population with a diverse repertoire of antigen receptors that is also tolerant to self. Critical steps in the generation of the T cell population occur in the thymus where stromal cells and cells of haematopoietic origin present antigen to developing T cells. This serves as a multi-step selection process, where functional T cells are allowed to live and self-reactive T cells are either deleted or induced into a regulatory program. Autophagy, a cellular self-eating process, shares some of the same cellular machinery as antigen presentation and has been shown recently to be integral to the function of antigen presenting cells. In my work, I am interested in interrogating the role that autophagy and related cellular processes play in the intrathymic development and selection of T cells.