The role of novel C-type lectin receptors in adaptive anti-fungal immunity

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: Sch of Medicine, Medical Sci & Nutrition

Abstract

Fungal infections pose an enormous burden on human health, particularly in individuals with altered immune systems. Developing a greater understanding of how the immune system actually provides protection against fungal diseases is critical if we are to use this knowledge to develop novel therapies to combat these infections. We previously discovered that a key molecule expressed on the surface of immune cells, called Dectin-1, plays a central role in antifungal immunity. Our subsequent research revealed that Dectin-1 protects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from infection with Candida albicans, a fungal organism that is commonly associated with humans, but that can cause devastating diseases in individuals whose immune functions are compromised. Notably, we found that absence of Dectin-1 led to aberrant immune responses following infection with C. albicans, which resulted in a loss of important functional cells, called T-cells, in the infected GI tract. We have recently determined that Dectin-1 controls expression of a novel group of molecules that are involved in the development of these critical T-cell responses. In this application, we propose to characterise the expression and function of these exciting new molecules and establish how they contribute to antifungal immunity in the GI tract.

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