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Assistant Professor, Genetics

Research Interests

Key words: epigenetic & transcriptional regulation in T cell differentiation, function & disease, cancer, hematological malignancies, lymphomas, immunotherapy

Lab Website

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.


Currently, we are seeking for motivated, creative individuals with strong background in immunology, mouse genetics and molecular biology to join the team.  Experience with genetically modified mice/ mouse models of disease is desired. Knowledge of molecular biology methods and basic bioinformatic analysis skills is preferable. Interested candidates should send a CV, a statement of research interests and contact information for three references to Ageliki:

Enthusiastic students eager to explore the molecular and genetic mechnanisms that shape T cell biology are strongly encouraged to contact Ageliki:

Mentor Training:

  • Bias 101
  • Faculty Mentoring Workshop for Biomedical Researchers
  • Groundwater Approach: Building a practical understanding of structural racism
  • Implicit Bias Awareness
  • REI Phase I Training
  • Safe Zone

Training Program Affiliations:

  • Cell Biology and Physiology
  • Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology and Immunology


  • Key Publications:
    • Tsagaratou A. Lio CJ, Yue X, Rao A (2017). TET Methylcytosine Oxidases in T Cell and B cell Development and Function. Frontiers in Immunology. March 31; 8:220 PMID: 28408905
    • Tsagaratou A, Gonzalez-Avalos E, Rautio S, Scott Browne J, Togher S, Pastor WA, Rothenberg E.V., Chavez L, Lahdesmaki H, Rao A (2017). TET proteins regulate the lineage specification and TCR-mediated expansion of iNKT cells. Nature Immunology2017 Jan; 18 (1); 45-53 (PMID: 27869820)
    • Tsagaratou, A.*, Aijo, T.*, Lio, C.W., Yue, X., Huang, Y., Jacobsen, S.E., Lahdesmaki, H., and Rao, A. (2014). Dissecting the dynamic changes of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine in T-cell development and differentiation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America111, E3306-3315. (PMID:25071199)(*equal contribution)
  • NCBI Bibliography
  • PubMed

Ageliki Tsagaratou in UNC Genetics News

Ageliki Tsagaratou