Receptors of the innate immune system
Our main research focus is on receptors that are expressed by cells of the innate immune system. Many of these receptors are pattern-recognition (PRR) receptors that are important for recognition of pathogens. Examples are Dectin-2, which is important for the recognition of fungi, and Mincle which recognizes certain fungal species, bacteria, and mycobacteria. The latter is of great importance for research on tuberculosis, since Mincle recognizes "cord factor", one of the most important virulence factors for mycobacterium tuberculosis.
We are also interested in the role of these receptors in complex diseases such as autoimmunity and cancer. We have shown that the gene complex encoding some of these receptors is linked to the susceptibility to develop autoimmune arthritis in a rat model, oil-induced arthritis. We are trying to understand how variation in genes for these receptors can affect autoimmune pathogenesis, and we are working to locate exactly which gene mediates the susceptibility to arthritis development.