Director, CHORI HLA Laboratory

Office: 510-450-7685
510-428-3885 x8553
Lab: 510-450-7686

Administrative Coordinator:
Kristine Munir
Office: 510-450-7609

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Dr. Trachtenberg’s laboratory investigates the biology and genetics of the human Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) and Natural Killer cell Immunoglobulin-like Receptor (KIR) complex. The human MHC, also known as the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) complex, codes for two classes of peptide-binding cell surface glycoproteins. The HLA class I molecules are expressed on the surface of most vertebrate cells. The HLA class II molecules are expressed only on immunologically active cells called antigen-presenting cells (APC) and activated T-cell lymphocytes. The HLA molecules are integral to the body’s determination of self and non-self and are part of the adaptive immune response. Both classes of HLA present processed self- or non-self peptides to circulating T-cells and in doing so are critical players in the immune response to pathogens. HLA is also linked to many autoimmune diseases, and to the success of allogeneic donor organ and stem cell transplants. The KIR molecules are expressed only on mammalian natural killer (NK) cells and are responsible for controlling these cells, which are critical as the first line of defense against viruses and are part of the innate immune response.  The KIR molecules interact with their MHC-class I ligands to modulate the immune response by inhibiting or activating NK cytolytic behavior and/or chemokine release. The HLA and KIR genes are highly polymorphic, the vast variability presumably evolving in populations over time by pathogen-driven selection and maintained by balancing selection for heterozygote advantage.. The Trachtenberg group has developed many novel molecular assays to examine these complex genes, including high-throughput assays that conserve valuable sample, especially useful in large epidemiological studies.

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 class I ligands and variable KIR have considerable impact on human health. Consequently, better understanding of the underlying mechanisms could influence future clinical practice. To this end, the Trachtenberg group examines the roles of HLA and KIR in stem cell transplantation, and in autoimmune and infectious diseases using well-characterized, population-based cohorts. In addition, their studies on the population genetics of these highly diverse genes are of import to both disease association and immune system evolution research.

In the clinical arena, Dr. Trachtenberg is Director of the HLA & Immunogenetics Laboratory at Children’s, where her laboratory is a leader in the use of qualitative and quantitative molecular analyses to determine an individual’s immunological identity for stem cell transplantation and post-transplant chimerism status.  The CHRCO HLA & Immunogenetics Laboratory is an ASHI-accredited, California State licensed, histocompatibility laboratory.  Dr. Trachtenberg also Co-Directs, with Dr. Jon Rowland  Medical Director and Chairman, Dept. of Pathology,  the Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory and the Center for Applied Genomics, divisions of the Department of Clinical Laboratory Medicine at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland (CHRCO). These laboratories diagnose the presence and magnitude of pathogenic microbial infections,  and identify critical genetic mutations and genotypes utilizing state-of-the art molecular PCR, next-generation sequencing and array-based technologies. All tests meet the rigorous validation standards of CHRCO, CLIA and CAP. The clinical laboratories led by Dr. Trachtenberg continue to validate new molecular tests to help physicians in the diagnosis and prognosis of clinically important disorders.


Revised: Monday, November 12, 2012 2:57 PM


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