Initiation, dynamic control and long-term consequences of T-cell antigen receptor signalling: understanding etiology and therapy of immune diseases


  • Prof Oreste Acuto

    University of Oxford

Project summary

T cells clear the body of pathogenic microbes while maintaining a ‘good neighbour’ relationship with useful symbiotic gut microbes. T cells also ensure that the immune system does not mistakenly attack our own tissues and organs.

Our studies look at the molecular mechanisms by which T cells ensure maximum protection with limited or no collateral damage and what helps maintain this healthy balance. Our research has uncovered the mechanism by which T cells receive and process signals elicited by ‘peptide antigens’, the portions of foreign proteins belonging to invading microbial pathogens that can be seen by T cells, allowing them to prepare adequate defensive responses. This very same signalling process also helps minimise the risk of autoimmunity.

Our research should lead to the identification of more effective and better-tolerated drugs that protect against organ graft rejection, and also improve early diagnosis of autoimmunity and management and/or cure of autoimmunity.