During the immune response, the lymph node functions as communication and activation centre for immune cells. Dendritic cells (DCs) that encounter a virus or bacterium migrate to the lymph node to activate T cells which will fight the infection. Within the lymph node, specialized fibroblasts – fibroblastic reticular cells (FRCs) – form a cellular network facilitating migration and interaction of DCs and T cells. DC migration along FRCs depends on interaction of C-type lectin-like receptor 2 (CLEC-2) on DCs with podoplanin (PDPN) on FRCs. Simultaneously, this interaction results in elongation of FRCs allowing lymph node expansion. This is essential for T cell infiltration and proliferation in the lymph node. My research focuses on the molecular mechanisms and downstream signalling underlying PDPN activation. Furthermore, I will explore how the interaction between DCs and FRCs orchestrates the adaptive immune response. This project will significantly broaden our understanding of the immunoregulatory role of FRCs upon infection.
NWO Rubicon Postdoctoral Fellowship
Signalling pathways, Cell-cell interactions