Cell-contact dependent regulation of immune cell responses plays a vital role in balancing the need for rapid and efficient responses to a wide variety of pathological challenges, while at the same time maintaining self-tolerance.
Over the last decade, our imaging studies – and those of other teams - have helped establish the emerging new paradigm that immune cell activation and inhibition is controlled by transient interactions between supramolecular assemblies of receptors, kinases and adaptors.
This is a significantly different concept from a linear cascade of individual protein-protein interactions depicted in textbook diagrams of immune receptor signaling pathways.
The new challenge is to assess the heterogeneity and single-molecule level organisation of protein clusters and understand how this influences signal integration and downstream effector functions.
Our lab uses high- and super-resolution imaging techniques to reveal novel insights into molecular recognition by human immune cells, and how specific effector functions are realised.