T cells are one of the most powerful immune cells in our body and provide protection against infections as well as cancers. However, if their development process becomes abnormal, it can cause various disorders to arise, including T cell cancers such as leukemia. Therefore, Dr. Boyoung Shin is working to improve our understanding of the factors that contribute to the normal T cell development.
Specifically, she aims to answer two questions: First, what molecular mechanism drives the progenitor cells that give rise to T cells to “move forward” to next developmental step? Second, what makes the T cell precursors “stay committed” to the T lineage pathway after a certain point? Recent data from Shin’s team suggests that the Runx family of proteins may play pivotal roles in both, so now she’s characterizing how Runx factors control gene expression programs in a stage-specific manner. Overall, her work seeks to reveal previously unknown molecular mechanisms that are both essential for normal T development and responsible for leukemias when dysregulated, which could pave the way for strategies to address the associated disorders.
Projects and Grants
The molecular mechanisms of Runx transcription factors in early thymic T cell development 2020-2022
California Institute of Technology | All Cancers, Leukemia, Lymphoma | 2020 | Ellen Rothenberg, Ph.D.
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