B.S. Biomedical Engineering 2016, Georgia Institute of Technology
M.S. Chemical Engineering 2019, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Alopecia Areata (AA) is an autoimmune disease affecting ~2% of the world population. It manifests as inflammatory response of the hair follicles where immune cells, cytotoxic T cells in particular, attack self-tissue, resulting in hair loss. The mechanism underlying this autoimmune reaction is incompletely understood, and the antigen(s) recognized by the specific T-cell receptors (TCRs) are unknown. The objective of my project is to identify and characterize AA-specific and force sensitive antigen(s) and cognate TCRs. It is widely accepted that the disease is induced by a loss of immune privilege in hair follicles, leading to the loss of immune tolerance of a subpopulation of CD8+ T cells that recognize self-antigens. It is hypothesized that the self-antigen peptide-histocompatibility complex (pMHC) interaction with TCR is stronger than those that provide tonic signals for T cell survival but weaker than the pathogenic-pMHC-TCR interactions. I aim to identify AA-driving antigen(s) and their cognate TCRs in human and mouse, to characterize the force-dependent AA-pMHC-TCR interaction and compare it with self- and pathogenic-pMHC-TCR interactions using the biomembrane force probe technology of our lab.
Wilder CL, Walton C,
Shockey W, Kieslich C, Wilder C,