Dr Facundo Batista, Head, Lymphocyte Interaction Group, London Research Institute
The fate of developing and mature B cells is determined by antigen binding to the antigen receptor (BCR) on the B cell surface. At the immature stage, encounter with high-affinity antigen leads to cell death (a way of preventing the production of autoreactive cells). In contrast, at the mature B cell stage, the immune system specifically selects for B cells that recognise the antigen with high affinity, as production of high affinity antibodies is essential for protective immunity to viruses and other foreign antigens.
We will use our experimental model together with the latest imaging techniques to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to B cell activation. We will explore how the kinetics of synapse formation and receptor compartmentalisation will be affected by the density, affinity and the context in which antigen is seen. We will also focus our attention on the cellular mechanisms behind the different compartmentalisation of the receptor. This work in combination with in vivo studies will provide a better understanding how the fate of a B cell is determined and how it can be regulated. We want to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which B cell activation and fate are controlled.