Lymphocyte Development and Leukemogenesis Lab
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência
Rua da Quinta Grande 6
2780-156 Oeiras, Portugal
Our lab studies early T cell development under physiological conditions, and during leukemogenesis. Former work has shown that cell competition regulates thymus turnover, in which 'young' precursors (that entered the thymus more recently) induced clearance of the 'old' precursors (residing for longer in the thymus). If thymus seeding was interrupted, then T lymphocyte production was maintained for some time – thymus autonomy. However, prolonging thymus autonomy was permissive to the development of T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) identical to the human disease. Current research in the lab focuses on how particular cell populations in the thymus interact with each other promoting turnover, on the novel functions that precursors can acquire to ensure thymus autonomy, and on the development of T-ALL from wild type T cell precursors.
The mouse is used as a model organism and we often perform thymus transplants and/or bone marrow chimeras as an experimental approach. These are combined with genetic models to test for the function of genes in the cells and in the processes that we study. We use multi-color flow cytometry, microscopy, RNAseq, and we generate genetically modified mouse models.