Dr. Trachtenberg and her laboratory study the immunogenomics and role of the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) and natural killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) gene complexes in health and disease.
To this end, the Trachtenberg group examines the roles of HLA and KIR in autoimmune and infectious diseases using well-characterized, population-based cohorts. Her group also collaborates on studies examining HLA and KIR associations in cancer, and with outcome in stem cell transplantation, a unique environment combining individual donor and recipient immune systems.
HLA are cell-surface molecules that work directly with T-cells and other cells of immunologic function, together acting to determine self from non-self, the basis of immunity. KIRs are cell-surface molecules that manage the response of natural killer cells, important as the first line of defense against viruses and tumors. HLA molecules communicate directly with KIR, which then either activate or inhibit the natural killer cells. The HLA and KIR systems thus work together to modulate the immune response. Because the HLA and KIR gene complexes are large, with many genes and gene variants, they are more difficult to analyze than other genomic regions. Dr. Trachtenberg’s group is an international leader in developing novel methods to investigate the genetics of these immune complexes. Her group has utilized these techniques to advance our understanding of the tremendous diversity of these systems in various populations. Both HLA and KIR have been correlated with a variety of diseases and syndromes, and collectively, these studies make a convincing case that interactions between variable HLA ligands and KIR have considerable impact on human health. Consequently, better understanding of the underlying mechanisms could influence future clinical practice.
Monday, July 20, 2015 9:11 AM