Investigating our remarkable finding that both B and T lymphocytes, when activated, can transfer their antigen receptors to bystander lymphocytes by membrane exchange. This process enhances the number of B cells that can capture and present antigen to CD4+ T cells and dramatically expands the number of CD8+ cytotoxic T cells that can clear a viral infection. However, the molecular basis of this phenomenon and its importance in various immune responses needs to be clarified and is an area of intense investigation.
In recent years the Group has also been investigating the role of heparan sulfate in T lymphocyte development in the thymus. These studies have revealed that heparan sulfate expressed by stromal cells in the thymus interacts with developing thymocytes via a molecule called CD8, this interaction lowering the activation threshold required to eliminate auto-reactive T cells.