Research Field: Signal transduction at epithelial surfaces
Team leader: Dr. Inna Afonina
Tel: +32 9 33 13 764 - Fax: +32 9 221 76 73
Epithelial surfaces of the skin, gut and lungs serve as a protective physical barrier between the host and the outside world. Additionally, epithelial cells act as important innate immune sensors that can alert immune system to the presence of danger. The overall goal of our research, which is situated on the convergence of fundamental and applied biomedical science, is to better characterize intra- and extracellular signaling at epithelial surfaces in the context of skin, gut or lung inflammation, as well as carcinoma, using a combination of omics technologies, molecular and cellular biology, immunology and mouse genetics.
One of our main research interests is currently focused on an intracellular signaling mediator CARD14. Hyperactivating mutations in the CARD14 gene have been linked with psoriasis susceptibility in humans. Our team explores the functional role of CARD14 in epithelial cell proliferation, differentiation and gene expression, as well as molecular mechanisms regulating CARD14 signal transduction and strategies for pharmacological targeting of the CARD14 pathway.
We are also interested in the function and regulation of the epithelial derived cytokine IL-33, an alarmin that can activate the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system. Dysregulated IL-33 activity has been implicated in different diseases, including asthma, multiple sclerosis and cancer. Better understanding the effects and regulation of IL-33 may allow the development of novel therapeutics. In this context, our team explores the therapeutic potential of a newly developed IL-33trap.
Areas of expertise
Technology transfer potential