Our research aims to dissect the epigenetic and transcriptional mechanisms that shape T cell lineage specification during development in the thymus as well as in the periphery upon antigen (microbial, viral) encounter. We are studying epigenetic regulators that fine tune gene expression and control transcriptional networks. Moreover, we investigate how specific transcription factors drive gene expression and define T cell lineage fate. We are using genetically modified mice to interrogate the function of these molecules specifically in T cells. Aberrant expression of these factors can impact T cell differentiation and function and ultimately result in inflammation, autoimmunity or malignant transformation (T cell leukemias and lymphomas). To answer our questions we are using gene deficient mouse models, primary cell culture, multiparameter Flow Cytometry, molecular biology assays and next generation sequencing technologies to elucidate the regulatory information in cells of interest (transcriptome, epigenome, transcription factor occupancy).
Understanding the differences between physiological versus pathological T cell differentiation and immune response is fundamental in order to manipulate T cells to design better, more efficient therapies while minimizing side effects. Thus, our research is highly translational and our ultimate goal is to combat human disease.