T CELL-INTRINSIC ROLE OF PATTERN RECOGNITION RECEPTORS
The immune system protects us from threatening infections. It does so by means of two lines of defense: the innate and the adaptive immune branches. Innate immune cells express a number of pattern recognition receptors, which allow to rapidly and broadly sense pathogens or stress, among which NOD-like receptors (NLRs). Engagement of selected NLRs leads to prompt activation of innate immune cells, which fight the infection.
T lymphocytes recognize pathogens through the ‘T cell receptor’, becoming thereby activated. Although slower to develop, adaptive immunity has the advantage to be pathogen-specific and to form a long-lasting response, enabling early protection upon secondary infection.
Certain NLRs, which are typical of the innate immune system, are however highly expressed by adaptive T lymphocytes – an aspect that has been largely overlooked. This proposal aims to evaluate, by in vitro and in vivo approaches - the T cell-intrinsic role of selected NLRs predominantly expressed and poorly characterized in these lymphocytes.Our data indicate that NLRs exert novel functions in roles more traditionally associated with adaptive immune system pathways. We expect that in-depth analysis of these proteins will shed new light onto the NLR field, bringing insights into important aspects of T lymphocyte responses and suggesting novel opportunities for therapeutic intervention.