Flipping the metabolic switch
Martin Vaeth investigates regulatory T cells
The immune system protects the body from infectious and malignant diseases. However, to prevent collateral damage to healthy tissue and the development of autoimmune diseases, it has to be tightly controlled. This is where regulatory T cells (Treg cells), a subset of lymphocytes, come into play: they ensure that immune responses are carried out orderly.
Treg cells differ from effector T cells not only in their immunoregulatory function but also in their metabolism. If their metabolism is altered, they lose their immunosuppressive capacity and assimilate to their inflammatory counterparts. What role does the metabolism play in the differentiation of T cells? Martin Vaeth from the University of Würzburg is investigating this question in his project at the Single-Cell Center Würzburg using single-cell RNA sequencing. A better understanding of the differentiation of Treg cells could provide approaches for novel therapies.
The Single-Cell Center Würzburg is a joint competence center of the Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI) with the Faculty of Medicine of the Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU), the University Hospital Würzburg (UKW), the Fraunhofer Translational Center for Regenerative Therapies (TLZ-RT), and the Max Planck Research Group at the Würzburg Institute of Systems Immunology (WüSI).
The center’s objective is to analyze and understand diseases at the level of individual cells. In the future, this will enable the earliest possible and most reliable prediction of a disease and how it can be treated in the best possible way.