Our laboratory is interested in how the innate immune system recognizes developing tumor cells. Toward this end, we have generated a bank of tumor cell lines which we believe are enriched in recognition structures that activate innate immune components, including natural killer (NK) cells, macrophages, and neutrophils. We hope to understand the molecular basis of this recognition.
We also have focused on a family of ligands for the NK cell receptor NKG2D. These NKG2D ligands are highly expressed on tumors, virally infected cells, and in certain autoimmune diseased tissues. We have shown that the NKG2D ligand H60 is regulated by the interferons and may function in this aspect to modulate the immune system. We are actively pursuing the regulation of H60 during carcinogenesis in order to understand how recognition structures might be acquired during the transformation process.
A related interest is in how human therapies influence immune cellularity in patient blood. We routinely receive specimens from clinical trial patients at baseline and after drug therapy. We process these samples and analyze them for immune cell quantity and quality. These studies will provide immune correlates that can be used to predict responses or understand the mechanism of the response.