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Shawna McLetchie

Department: Cancer Biology

Faculty Mentor: Mark Boothby, Ph.D.

Dissertation DescriptionMetabolic Programs during B cell Development

Immunological memory is the basis of vaccination biology. A small subset of memory B cells generated in the primary immune response can be protective for decades. However, the mechanism by which these circulating cells survive and maintain their function for so long is unknown. We are interested in the metabolic demands of immune cells that impact their survival, differentiation, development and function. Immune cells rely on different metabolic processes depending on the stage of development and the needs of the cell. B cells develop and mature in the bone marrow, subsequently circulating through the blood and lymphoid tissues as quiescent cells. Upon initial exposure to a pathogen, B cells enter a germinal center reaction where they undergo rapid bouts of proliferation and differentiate into effector cells. A subset of these differentiated cells have a memory function, which upon subsequent exposure to the same pathogen, elicit an even more robust immune response. Since cellular metabolism has been linked with cell function and survival we investigate the metabolic programs of B cells throughout their different naïve, effector, and memory states.