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HiLF - Die Rolle von microRNAs in Antigenprozessierung und -präsentation (N. Zietara)

Dendritic cells (DC) are potent regulators of the immune system specialized in capturing, processing and presenting antigen to naïve T cells. Therefore DC play a crucial role in maintaining the subtle balance between tolerance and autoimmunity as well as protective T cell responses. To date, much research is being done trying to fully understand the potential of DC. Considerable effort has been made to develop strategies for using DC to induce tumor-specific immunity. The goal of DC-based vaccination for antitumor therapy is to stimulate robust and long lasting specific T cell responses. Thus, identifying factors that influence antigen processing and presentation is likely to be very important for designing novel therapeutic strategies. Although many of the components involved in processing and presentation of antigen are well established other mechanisms are still elusive. For instance, the mechanism of cross-presentation, i.e. the presentation of exogenous antigens via MHC I by DC, is still a subject of intensive investigation.

In the past decade, microRNAs (miRNAs) were recognized as a class of potent post-transcriptional regulators. Their growing importance is highlighted by the fact that altered miRNA expression is linked to a variety of human diseases. Therefore, we plan to test the hypothesis that miRNAs modulate antigen processing and presentation by DC. Identification of miRNAs which regulate the function of DC will ultimately help to design novel therapies against highly complex diseases.


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