Research Focus

Welcome to the Emil R. Unanue-


The long-term goal of the laboratory is to understand antigen presentation, both at the cellular and biochemical level, and to correlate antigen presentation events to the response of CD4 T lymphocytes. Our current focus is entirely on autoimmune diabetes, examining the non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse. We combine biochemical and biological parameters related to antigen selection, recognition and processing by antigen presenting cells (APC) and T cell selection. The NOD mouse strain develops spontaneous diabetes: penetrance of diabetes in our colony  is about 80%, starting at about 18-20 weeks of age; most of the diabetic mice are females; about ¼ of males do develop disease although most have histopathological changes in their islets. Selected investigations also are being  carried out with human islets.

A brief history of the accomplishments of our laboratory was published in Nature Immunology, 7: 1277-1279, 2006: "From antigen processing to peptide-MHC binding". See also "Making antigen presentable" by Paul Allen in J Immunol, 179: 3-4, 2007; "Studies with Listeria monocytogenes lead the way" in Adv Immunol 2012;113:1-5; Antigen presentation events in autoimmune diabetes: Curr Opin Immunol 2011;24:1-10. A recent chapter in Ann Rev Path (2011;6:1-8) traces Emil's entry into immunology: "Starting immunology by way of immunopathology".