T-cell and B-cell immunodominance
In the arms race between pathogen and host, the adaptive immune system uses a diverse set of pattern detectors to identify and eliminate pathogens and pathogen infected cells. These detectors bind to short contiguous (T-cells, B-cells) and non-contiguous (B-cells) protein fragments called epitopes. During the course of an infection the immune system focuses its response to a small fraction of the thousands of potential targets. This phenomenon, known as immunodominance, is a fundamental property of the adaptive immune response. Understanding the mechanisms that govern immunodominance is crucial for designing vaccines. Immunodominance is a result of a large number of factors including immunological history, antigen processing and presentation, viral load and kinetics of viral expression, and host genetics.
Our lab employs systems immunology methodologies to study the underlying mechanisms that govern T-cell and B-cell immunodominance in both natural infection and vaccination. We are developing and using both computational and experimental tools to identify both viral and host features that define and modulate immunodominance hierarchies. The nature of our work is translational, integrating the design and application of computational approaches with clinical and laboratory studies that provide data for validating and refining our computational tools.