Lymphocyte Development and Differentiation

T lymphocytes can be divided into a number of specialized subsets that are capable of conducting a variety of functions. In many cases there is great plasticity whereby T cells can transition from one phenotype into another based on specific microenvironments present at sites of inflammation. This transition process has been described for the Treg, Th17, Th1 and Th2 subsets and the transition from one phenotype into another plays a critical role in the orchestration of the immune response. To further investigate this process of differentiation we have begun to determine the effects of different cytokines that have the ability to skew T cell phenotypes. Currently much of the work revolves around the effects of interleukin-16 in conjunction with other cytokines such as TGFb, IL-6, IL-2 and IL-15 to induce activation of transcription factors Tbet, for Th1 development, FoxP3 for Treg development and RORgC for Th17 cell development. Ultimately these studies will be addressed in in vivo models of inflammation to more fully understand the roles of these cytokines in the T cell differentiation process.

Faculty involved in this research are: