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Tom Serwold, Ph.D.

An Investigator in the Section on Immunobiology, Dr. Tom Serwold studies how T cells of the immune-system cells are generated and how they work—research that helps to shed light on what causes type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases.

T cells develop in the thymus, where thymic epithelial cells (TECs) play a critical role in training them not to attack the body’s own cells. Self-reactive T cells generally are eliminated before they mature and exit the thymus, but this process is not 100% efficient, and in type 1 diabetes, T cells that escape elimination in the thymus end up targeting insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Dr. Serwold’s lab will study the roles of TEC dysfunction in autoimmunity, and whether altering TEC function can prevent or alter the course of autoimmune disease.

Dr. Serwold is working on isolating TECs and their progenitors from mice and exploring distinct roles of TEC subsets in functional assays. In complementary studies, his lab examines the generation of TECs from embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (embryonic-stem-cell like cells created by genetically “reprogramming” adult cells). Deriving TECs from such cells will provide valuable tools for studying the development of autoimmune disease, and will also be important for the growing field of regenerative medicine, because transplantation of TECs could provide a way of inducing immune acceptance of tissue grafts derived from embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells.

Selected References

Reductive isolation from bone marrow and blood implicates common lymphoid progenitors as the major source of thymopoiesis.
Serwold T, Ehrlich LI, Weissman IL. Blood. 2009 Jan 22;113(4):807-15. Epub 2008 Oct 16.

Early TCR expression and aberrant T cell development in mice with endogenous prerearranged T cell receptor genes.
Serwold T, Hochedlinger K, Inlay MA, Jaenisch R, Weissman IL. J Immunol. 2007 Jul 15;179(2):928-38.

New evidence supporting megakaryocyte-erythrocyte potential of flk2/flt3+ multipotent hematopoietic progenitors.
Forsberg EC, Serwold T, Kogan S, Weissman IL, Passegué E. Cell. 2006 Jul 28;126(2):415-26.

ERAAP customizes peptides for MHC class I molecules in the endoplasmic reticulum.
Serwold T, Gonzalez F, Kim J, Jacob R, Shastri N. Nature. 2002 Oct 3;419(6906):480-3.

Producing nature's gene-chips: the generation of peptides for display by MHC class I molecules.
Shastri N, Schwab S, Serwold T. Annu Rev Immunol. 2002;20:463-93. Epub 2001 Oct 4.

ER aminopeptidases generate a unique pool of peptides for MHC class I molecules.
Serwold T, Gaw S, Shastri N. Nat Immunol. 2001 Jul;2(7):644-51.

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Page last updated: July 23, 2014