December 15, 2020

New MHWFAC research sheds light on allergic response

A new finding from the laboratories of the MHWFAC has been published online by the prestigious journal Science Immunology.

The Kim Lab, headed by Chang Kim, PhD, has discovered a molecule critical for making a group of immune cells, called innate lymphoid cells ( ILCs), in the bone marrow.   

“Animals deficient in this molecule are protected from allergic responses and therefore our investigation into this molecule can provide useful information regarding mechanisms of allergic immune responses and potentially therapies,” said Dr. Kim, a professor of pathology and the Kenneth and Judy Betz Research Professor at the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center.

ILCs protect from diverse pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and parasites like tapeworms.  Importantly, they also participate in allergy responses.

ILCs are differentiated in the bone marrow from hematopoietic progenitors, which grow mature components like platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells.

The Kim Lab found that a protein called BATF regulates the gene expression program required for the differentiation of the ILCs immune cells in the bone marrow.

They also showed that animals deficient in the expression of BATF are highly susceptible to infection and are unable to mount effective immune response to allergy-inducing cytokines.  

The lab will continue to study the molecular details in the regulation of ILC production,  which may lead to discovery of a novel target of intervention in treating inflammatory and allergic diseases. 

The initial findings were published in the Dec 4 issue of Science of Immunology as “The basic leucine zipper ATF-like transcription factor regulates innate lymphoid cell hematopoiesis and homeostasis.”

View the paper at the Science Immunology website.