The role of innate receptors in dendritic cell and B lymphocyte activation
Antibodies represent a major component of adaptive immunity and are at the basis of vaccination. They are produced by plasma cells that derive from activated and memory B cells. We developed methods suitable for the analysis of the human B cell memory repertoire and for the isolation of human monoclonal antibodies from memory B cells or plasma cells. Using these methods, we are investigating the cellular basis for immunological memory, ie the mechanisms that underlie the maintenance of serum antibody levels and the generation of secondary immune responses. By screening the human antibody repertoire we isolate monoclonal antibodies that potently and broadly neutralize viruses (such as HIV-1 and cytomegalovirus) and use these antibodies to identify their conserved target antigens. These approaches are relevant to understand the mechanisms of protection as well as immunopathology, and to design more specific and effective tools for vaccination.