Niche signals involved in tissue-resident macrophage function.

Supervisor: Dr. Jean-Yves Springael

Tissue-resident macrophages are a heterogeneous population of immune cells that fulfill tissue-specific and niche-specific functions. It is believed that their functional diversity is determined by local signals present under developmental, homeostatic or pathological conditions. However, little is known regarding signals required for their differentiation and function. We recently uncovered that chemerin is enriched in specific niches of secondary lymphoid organs and controls the function of resident macrophages. Chemerin is a small chemotactic protein that binds to three receptors CMKLR1, GPR1 and CCRL2 belonging to the G protein-coupled receptor family. We will build on this original discovery and will characterize further the role of this novel signal in the development and function of macrophages.

Our proposed research project aims to study role of the chemerin system by using KO mice lines for the chemerin and for each of the receptors in steady state, autoimmune and infection models. This study will help us to better understand the signals involved in tissue-resident macrophage function and may pave the way for the development of new therapies involving compounds that block or induce G protein-coupled receptor, thereby allowing us to modulate the function of macrophages.

Mice handling, molecular biology, in situ hybridization, fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry.

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