B lymphocyte function and the structure of cell surface molecules that regulate B cell function, activation and signal transduction.
The laboratory is primarily focused on the role of B lymphocytes in human disease, including autoimmunity and tumor immunology. Specifically, we focus on the identification and biochemical/structural characterization of cell surface molecules found primarily on B lymphocytes in order to determine how these molecules function, what their ligands are, and how they generate transmembrane signals to regulate B cell function. This information guides studies examining how normal B cells influence T cell function, autoimmunity, and host responses to pathogens and tumors. Most recently, our studies have centered on the identification and characterization of a subset of regulatory B cells with the capacity to produce IL-10 that we call B10 cells. This tiny B cell subset is a major regulatory of immune system homeostasis and function. Specifically, both human and mouse B10 cells regulate innate, humoral and cellular immunity during inflammation, autoimmunity and lymphoma. The findings from these collective studies have allowed us to identify ways that B lymphocytes, their surface molecules and drugs targeting these cells can be used for the treatment of autoimmunity and B cell malignancies. As an example, one drug developed in our laboratory is currently in international phase II clinical trails for the treatment of autoimmunity and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.