Regulation of CD11c+Tbet+ B Cells in Lupus
Dr. Alessandra Pernis studies a unique type of B cell that has been linked to several autoimmune diseases, including lupus. These “CD11c+Tbet+” B cells have unusually high amounts of two proteins: CD11c, which hangs like a hook on the outer surface of the cell, and T-bet, a protein in the center of the cell that controls the on/off switch for some genes. CD11c+Tbet+ B cells make autoantibodies—or antibodies that mistakenly attack a person’s own tissues and, thus, trigger diseases like lupus. Dr. Pernis will use her Novel Research Grant to learn how CD11c+Tbet+ B cells are made, what molecular pathways help control the function of T-bet in the center, and how and why the cells are triggered to make autoantibodies in lupus.
What this study means for people with lupus
Dr. Pernis expects her research on CD11c+Tbet+ B cells to fill in vital pieces of the puzzle of how lupus develops. By understanding why these cells develop and how they work, she hopes to find vulnerable points that can be targeted with novel drugs that are specially designed to stop or reverse the disease process in lupus.