Manipulating immune responses has the potential to provide therapy for a wide range of diseases from autoimmunity to cancer. The serine/threonine kinase mTORC1 (mammalian Target of Rapamycin complex 1) is a key regulator of immune cell function: inhibition of mTORC1 in T cells promotes regulatory T cell responses while inhibition of mTORC1 in dendritic cells (DC) promotes a more proinflammatory DC phenotype. Therefore, mTORC1 signalling has diverse roles in immune cell subsets and is potentially a crucial therapeutic target for manipulating immune responses.
mTORC1 is key to the regulation of various aspects of cellular metabolism: energy metabolism, lipid synthesis and autophagy. Our recent research in CD8 T cells and Natural Killer (NK) cells links mTORC1-regulated glycolysis to the control of fundamental effector functions and thus promotes the idea that mTORC1 signaling integrates the control of cellular metabolism and immune cell function.
Our research is further characterising the links between mTORC1 controlled metabolism and T cell, Natural Killer (NK) cell and DC function.
Ongoing projects are investigating:
- Deciphering the mTORC1 dependent mechanisms controlling dendritic cell metabolism and function
- Investigating metabolic regulation of NK cell function.
- Characterising the role of mTORC1/Srebp signaling in directing function NK cells.
Current research Students:
Postdoctoral Research Scientists:
Dr Nadine Assmann
Marie Curie Fellowship Career Integration Grant (321603), Science Foundation Ireland Project Grant (12/IP/1286), Science Foundation Ireland Career Development Award (13/CDA/2161), Science Without Borders (Brazil) PhD programme. Wellcome Trust/NIH PhD programme, Irish Cancer Society.