Jaewon (Jenny) Yoon L&S Sciences
Understanding factors that influence self-reactive thymocyte fate
Some thymocytes, or T cell precursors, have the ability to respond to self-antigens. If these thymocytes were to leave the thymus, they would develop into conventional T cells with the potential to drive autoimmune diseases. To prevent self-reactivity, these cells are often deleted from the repertoire through a process known as negative selection. Some, however, undergo agonist selection, which results in the development of lineages with protective and regulatory roles.
One agonist selected lineage is CD8 intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs). There is little known about what promotes the development of CD8 IEL precursors in the thymus and the factors that determine whether a thymocyte will undergo negative or agonist selection. To address this question, I will use a thymic slice model to investigate a thymocytes propensity to undergo negative selection versus agonist selection at different stages of maturation. Altogether, this will help us better understand self-reactive thymocyte fate and the mechanisms in place to prevent autoimmunity.