Cytotoxic T cells (identified by expression of the protein CD8) have the ability to recognize and control intracellular pathogens such as viruses. Upon encountering a pathogen, antigen-specific naïve CD8 T cells undergo differentiation into cell populations exhibiting effector and memory characteristics. These cells can be distinguished based on their functional roles, phenotypic attributes, and the surface proteins they bear. There is not enough understanding about the factors that drive this differentiation, especially the transcriptional and epigenetic control that give rise to functional CD8 responses vs. dysfunctional responses such as in cancer and different infections. Polycomb group of proteins (PcG) are group of complexes forming proteins that have known chromatin regulation properties. This study is focused on characterizing the role of one such PcG gene, SCML-1 in the differentiation of CD8 T cells. SCML-1 is upregulated in the naïve CD8 cells while being downregulated in their effector stage. The study explores the role of SCML-1 in the transcriptional regulation of naïve CD8 T cells and its potential protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions. The aim of exploring this research question is to gather more understanding about the players that control cell lineage commitments and the epigenetic changes that occur in the CD8 T cells. Better comprehension of these processes is integral in creating successful vaccines as well as in the control of diseases like cancer.
About the Speaker:
Krishnapriya is a Ph.D. candidate at Ashoka University's Human Immunology Lab and is guided by Dr. Rama S Akondy. Her research interests include studying protective immunity, immune cell memory, T cell differentiation regulation, and genetic processes in epidemic emergence. She holds a Master's degree in Zoology from the University of Kerala.