LMCB - Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology

Sophie Acton's picture

LMCB Group Leader, Cancer Research UK Senior Research Fellow

+44 (0)20  3108 1348
LMCB Room 3.01

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Stromal immunology

Research synopsis

Our interests lie in the communication between different cell types of the immune system, specifically the mechanisms controlling cellular trafficking, multicellular organization and lymphoid organ architecture.

The lymph node is a highly organized and tightly controlled environment. The dynamic nature of lymph node swelling and contraction is critical to all immune responses and is not well understood. 

We want to understand the processes involved in lymph node swelling/expansion, and how the interplay between immune cells and non-haematopeotic stromal cells is key to this process. By studying lymph node-dynamics we can learn about the control of immune responses. In addition, the lymph node as an experimental model is hugely relevant to the interplay between immune cells and stroma in settings such as tumours.

There are many parallels in the function of fibroblastic reticular cells (FRCs) of lymphoid tissues and tumour-associated fibroblasts. Taking lessons from the cell-cell interactions in the lymph node may provide novel avenues for tumour immunotherapy.


Selected publications

Chin MHW, et al (2023). Bioinspired 3D microprinted cell scaffolds: Integration of graph theory to recapitulate complex network wiring in lymph nodes. Biotechnol J. Nov 20:e2300359. doi: 10.1002/biot.202300359. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37986209.

Horsnell HL, et al (2022). Lymph node homeostasis and adaptation to immune challenge resolved by fibroblast network mechanics. Nat Immunol. 2022 Aug;23(8):1169-1182. doi: 10.1038/s41590-022-01272-5. Epub 2022 Jul 26. PMID: 35882934; PMCID: PMC9355877.

Lim SE, et al (2023). Quantitative single molecule analysis of podoplanin clustering in fibroblastic reticular cells uncovers CD44 function. Open Biol. May;13(5):220377. doi: 10.1098/rsob.220377. Epub 2023 May 10. PMID: 37161290; PMCID: PMC10170195.

Zhao J, et al (2022). Delivery of costimulatory blockade to lymph nodes promotes transplant acceptance in mice. J Clin Invest.  Dec 15;132(24):e159672. doi: 10.1172/JCI159672. PMID: 36519543; PMCID: PMC9754003.

Acton SE, et al (2021). Communication, construction, and fluid control: lymphoid organ fibroblastic reticular cell and conduit networks. Trends Immunol. Sep;42(9):782-794. doi: 10.1016/j.it.2021.07.003. Epub 2021 Aug 3. PMID: 34362676.

de Winde CM, et al (2020). Molecular mechanisms of dendritic cell migration in immunity and cancer. Med Microbiol Immunol. Aug;209(4):515-529. doi: 10.1007/s00430-020-00680-4. Epub 2020 May 25. PMID: 32451606; PMCID: PMC7395046.

About the lab


Medical Research Council
Cancer Research UK
European Research Council

Research themes

Cytoskeleton and cell cortex
Polarity and cell shape
Signalling pathways
Cell-cell interactions
Cell migration
Tissue remodeling


Light microscopy
2-Photon microscopy
Flow cytometry


Spiros Makris (PDRA)
Delan Alasaadi (PDRA)
Christa Benjamin (Lab manager)
Callum Foakes (PhD student)
Nicola Nguyen (PhD student)
Veronika Lachina (PhD student, joint with Mao lab)
Yubin Kang (PhD student)
Daniel Shewring (PhD student)


Chris Tape (UCL CI)
Clare Bennett (UCL CI)
Yanlan Mao (LMCB)
Marc-Olivier Coppens (UCL Engineering, CNIE)
Sabrina Simoncelli (Physics, LCN)
Erik Sahai (Francis Crick Institute)
Luigo Ombrato (Bart’s Cancer Institute, QMUL)
David Withers (University of Birmingham)
Menna Clatworthy (Univeristy of Cambridge)