Our goal is to understand and ultimately tailor membrane trafficking pathways in immune cells. Our foci are the cellular processes that lead to uptake and degradation of foreign antigen and the trafficking cascades that lead to antigen presentation and cytokine release by dendritic cells.
|Transmission electron microscopy image of a dendritic cell. The yellow arrow indicates a potential intracellular route followed by a secretory granule.|
|Fluorescence microscopy image of dendritic cells labeled for membrane trafficking proteins.|
Dendritic cells are white blood cells of the immune system. Dendritic cells circulate our blood and peripheral tissues where they sample for foreign antigens (e.g. microbial pathogens and cancer cells). The encounter of foreign antigen can lead to the activation of dendritic cells, which is accomplished by the marked production of many pro- and / or anti-inflammatory cytokines. Activated dendritic cells can migrate to lymph nodes where they present small fragments from the foreign antigen to naive killer as well as helper T cells. This activates these naive T cells, and thereby initiates an innate immune response. Dendritic cells are widely considered to constitute the link between adaptive and innate immunology, as they are the only cells that can activate naive CD8+ T cells in lymph nodes.
To achieve our goals we develop new strategies that allow following the intracellular trafficking cascades in immune cells. We primarily study immune cells isolated from human blood and from mice. Our lab uses an interdisciplinary approach, combining conventional cell biological, immunological and biochemical methods with advanced fluorescence microscopy techniques such as fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) and total internal resonance fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy.
Our laboratory is embedded in the Department of Tumor Immunology located at the Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (RIMLS). The RIMLS is the research institute for molecular life sciences of the Radboud University Medical Center (Radboud UMC) and the Radboud University, both located in Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Nijmegen is not only the oldest city of the Netherlands, but also has the most hours of sunny skies compared to any other city within the Netherlands!