Cells use an intricate network of intracellular signaling molecules to translate environmental changes, sensed via surface receptors, into cellular responses. Despite the prominent role that these networks play in life itself, we still lack a comprehensive understanding of how extracellular information is conveyed through them into specific bioactivities and fate decisions.
Cytokines are a large family of soluble messengers, whose main function is to oversee the correct functioning of the immune system. Most immune disorders can be traced to deregulation of a cytokine or cytokine-signaling pathway, which makes cytokines very attractive drug targets. In our research group, we use cytokines as a model system to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms determining the specificity of signaling activated by cell surface receptors.
We use protein engineering, combinatorial biology, mass spectrometry and structural biology to determine the mechanistic bases that allow a cytokine receptor to trigger different signal activation programs and bioactivities and to manipulate cytokine responses to better treat immune disorders via engineered surrogate ligands.
Determining signaling signatures activated by cytokines in the major immune cell populations
We are working to identify the signaling networks engaged by cytokines in different immune cell types and how these networks are influenced by disease processes. read more >>
Identifying structural and biophysical parameters controlling cytokine signaling
Cytokines dimerise surface receptors to activate signaling. However, the geometrical requirements needed to modulate signal activation are not known. We are working to identify these requirement. read more >>
Manipulating cytokine responses with engineered surrogate ligands
We aim to generate synthetic agonists with tailored functional properties for potential pharmaceutical application. read more >>