Tong Wu

Program: Immunology

Current advisor: Marco Colonna, MD

Undergraduate university: Duke University

Research summary
For my graduate research in the Colonna lab, I am characterizing the function of a novel subset of dendritic cells that may play a role in inducing tolerance in the intestinal mucosa. DCs play a central role in orchestrating immune responses to antigens. They capture antigens from peripheral tissues, deliver them to draining lymph nodes, and digest them into peptides that get presented to T cells to induce their response. DCs include two major subtypes: DC1s, which primarily elicit CD8 T cell responses, and DC2s, which prime CD4 T helper responses. Traditionally, it was thought that the same set of DC subtypes drive both immunogenic and tolerogenic T cell responses depending on DC status; i.e. resting DCs induce tolerance, while activated DCs induce immune responses. However, recent discoveries of novel DC types in the intestinal mucosa of mice have suggested that peripheral tolerance and immunity may be induced by distinct DC types. Specifically, while conventional DC1 and DC2 induce immune responses, a new subset of DCs expressing the transcription factor RORyT has been identified in gut associated lymphoid follicles and mesenteric lymph nodes that may selectively induce tolerance via peripheral Treg generation in early life, when host-microbiota symbiosis is first established. To characterize these novel subsets functions, we will generate mouse models that specifically delete these cells and apply various disease models to see how these cells play a role in their pathogenesis. We will perform RNAseq to determine what signaling pathways and cytokines are generated by these cells under specific conditions.

Graduate publications


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