Cancer Cell Biology and Developmental Immunology

Andreas Villunger, Cancer Cell Biology and Developmental Immunology
(shared with partner institution CeMM)   

Our group has a long-standing interest in the impact of deregulated cell death on the development and function of the immune system. Along that line, we have shown that central regulators of mitochondrial cell death (apoptosis) are key to establish and maintain normal immune cell hematopoiesis and tolerance. Defective cell death signalling can foster transformation of lymphocytes as well as prime for autoimmune disease.

In the more recent past, our group has become more interested in understanding the role of a set of proteases, referred to as caspases, known to control mainly inflammation and cell death, as a barrier against malignant disease.

Given our interest in the relation between the cell cycle and cell death machineries, our team recently also started a project line that investigates the role of a key cell cycle checkpoint kinase in normal hematopoiesis with a focus on B cell development and function. We anticipate that our investigations will give us valuable hints as to where in the immune system mutations in cell cycle checkpoint kinases cause cellular dysfunction that may help to explain the patient symptoms.