MBPhD Programme


SCHIM VAN DER LOEFF, Ina Corrine Dorothea


July 2009

Current Position: 

Qualified: 2015

PhD title: 

The role of Zap70 in T-cell homeostasis

Principal Supervisor: 

Dr. Benedict Seddon - Division of Infection & Immunity/NIMR

Funding Source: 

National Institute for Medical Research (Mill Hill)

Description of Project:

T cells play a central role in cell-mediated adaptive immune responses. Throughout life the size of the various T-cell populations are maintained constant, as a result of tight homeostatic control of peripheral cell survival and proliferation. Cytokine and T cell receptor (TCR) signalling are crucial to both T cell development and peripheral homeostasis. Recently, the expression Zap70, an essential target of TCR signalling, was found to be upregulated during positive selection of T cells in the thymus. The first aim of my PhD will be to investigate the control mechanisms of Zap70 expression during positive selection and in peripheral T cells. We plan to identify key regulatory regions of the Zap70 gene by mapping the histone code of the Zap70 locus throughout T cell development. We will then test the importance of possible regulatory regions required for constitutive and inducible expression in vitro in Jurkat cells and in vivo. The survival of naïve T cells in the periphery is also thought to depend on TCR signalling. However, the nature of a TCR dependent survival signal remains controversial. The second aim of my PhD will be to investigate the role of Zap70 in transducing a TCR dependent survival signal in naïve T cells. We will use mice, which conditionally express Zap70 to test whether naïve T cell survival depends requires Zap70 expression. Should Zap70 be required for survival of naïve T cells, we will attempt to investigate the mechanism of Zap70 dependent T cell survival using mice that express a mutated form of Zap70 that has reduced adaptor function.


Sinclair C, Saini M, Schim van der Loeff I, Sakaguchi S, Seddon B. The
long-term survival potential of mature T lymphocytes is programmed during
development in the thymus. Sci Signal. 2011 Nov 15;4(199):ra77. doi:

Pool E, Preston H, Schim van der Loeff I. 2009. Health care for refused asylum
seekers: evidence over ideology. The Lancet, 374 (9688), pp. 437 – 438.


2010-present Science and medicine tutor with Blue Tutors (reference number

2013-present Immunology demonstrator at University College London