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CSSB Seminar Series - Tobias Lenz

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Meeting ID: 846 0160 1019
Passcode: 620382

The vertebrate adaptive immune system relies on the recognition of specific pathogen-derived antigenic peptides for mounting a highly efficient and targeted immune response. These antigenic peptides are presented on host cells by highly polymorphic molecules of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and here recognized by effector T cells. For a host individual to mount a successful immune response thus requires successful presentation of the right peptides through its MHC, while for a pathogen to successfully infect a host requires evasion of this MHC presentation.

These dependencies predict very intriguing dynamics of adaptation and counter-adaptation of both host and pathogen, but also lead to trade-offs that constrain individual immunity and infectivity, respectively. Indeed, while MHC genes are among the most polymorphic genes in vertebrates, including humans, and are associated with several infectious diseases, they can also increase the risk for autoimmunity. Here I will present our approaches to study these dynamics and their consequences for individual health. I will also report some recent examples from our work on both the genetic variability of MHC (in humans called HLA) and pathogen peptidome diversity (e.g. HIV and Sars-CoV-2).