Janssens lab

Research field: The role of the unfolded protein response in immune cell biology

Group leader: Prof. Dr. Sophie Janssens

Tel:+32 9 33 13730 - Fax: +32 9 221 76 73
Email: Sophie.Janssens.spam.detractor@irc.vib-ugentspam.corruptor.be

Research topic

Our research team focuses on the role of the unfolded protein response (UPR) in several immune cell types. The UPR is an adaptive cellular response that is initiated upon accumulation of improperly folded proteins in the ER. Its main function is to restore ER homeostasis and to keep cells alive under conditions of ER stress. Recent work from our group and others has shown that the UPR is an important component in the functioning of the immune system. In CD8α conventional dendritic cells (DCs) the UPR sensor IRE-1α and its downstream transcription factor XBP-1s is constitutively active and deficiency of XBP-1s leads to defects in crosspresentation of dead cell-derived antigens. Future work aims to unravel how different branches of the UPR are regulated in different DC subsets and how they contribute to their basic functions. To address this, we combine cell biology, molecular biology and mouse immunology expertise.

Area of expertise

  • Signal transduction
  • UPR signaling pathways
  • Inflammation and cell death pathways

Technology transfer potential

  • Development of novel in vivo tools to monitor ER stress by non-invasive technologies
  • Identification of novel targets or strategies to improve dendritic cell based vaccination strategies

Selected publications

  1. Vetters, J. et al. The ubiquitin-editing enzyme A20 controls NK cell homeostasis through regulation of mTOR activity and TNF.
    J Exp Med 216, 2010-2023, 2019.
  2. Tavernier, S.J., et al. Regulated IRE1-dependent mRNA decay sets the threshold for dendritic cell survival.
    Nature Cell Biology, 19, 698-710, 2017.
  3. Osorio, F., et al. The unfolded-protein-response sensor IRE-1alpha regulates the function of CD8alpha+ dendritic cells.
    Nature Immunology, 15, 248-257, 2014.
  4. Janssens, S., et al. Emerging functions of the unfolded protein response in immunity.
    Nature Immunology, 15, 910-919, 2014.
  5. Vanacker, H., et al. Emerging Role of the Unfolded Protein Response in Tumor Immunosurveillance. 
    Trends Cancer 3, 491-505, 2017.

TEM pictures showing ER morphology
in WT (up) and IRE1 KO (down)
CD8α dendritic cells

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