SFB 914 Trafficking of Immune Cells in Inflammation, Development and Disease

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LMU to participate in three new Priority Programs

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich will be involved in three new Collaborative Research Centers (SFB) set up by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), and an LMU researcher will serve as speaker for one of them, SFB 914. SFB 914 entitled “Trafficking of Immune Cells in Inflammation, Development and Disease” will investigate the molecular and cellular determinants that control and orchestrate the migratory behavior of immune cells under steady-state conditions as well as during inflammation. The mammalian immune system is designed to prevent infection while preserving self-tolerance and restraining immune-mediated pathology. To accomplish these important tasks, it employs billions of motile immune cells that continually travel throughout the body in a precisely organized process that is essential for proper immune surveillance and serves to maximize the likelihood that leukocytes will encounter and eliminate foreign pathogens. In addition to host defense against pathogen intruders, leukocyte trafficking also ensures maintenance of tissue homeostasis through the rapid and efficient clearance of dying cells. SFB 914 will receive some 9.6 million euros in support over the next four years, and LMU physiologist Professor Barbara Walzog of the Walter Brendel Center for Experimental Medicine will act as speaker for the project. LMU is also a partner in two further SFBs. The goal of SFB 924 (“Molecular Mechanisms of Yield Formation and Yield Assurance in Plants”), which will be centered at the Technical University of Munich, is to help secure sufficient reserves of foodstuffs for the world’s growing population. SFB 960 (“Formation of Ribosomes: Principles of RNP Biogenesis and the Control of their Function”) will be based at the University of Regensburg.

Trafficking of immune cells is a key prerequisite for immune surveillance under physiological steady-state conditions and during disease states. Proper immune surveillance is of the utmost importance in mammalian homeostasis as it ensures defense against pathogen intruders, but also because it guarantees tissue integrity through the continuous removal of dying cells. In order to be both functional and efficient, the migration and trafficking behavior of immune cells has to be precisely controlled and fine-tuned on demand. This critical task is complicated by the fact that trafficking of immune cells does not follow a uniform course. Instead, different types of immune cells are endowed with unique machinery allowing them to follow subset-specific trafficking routes in order to fulfill their individual tasks within their individual target tissues.

To date, the molecular and cellular signatures that control and organize this complex process of mammalian immune cell trafficking are still incompletely understood. It will therefore be the mission of the SFB to dissect the signals and mechanisms that regulate the migratory responses of distinct leukocyte subsets during inflammation, development and in various infections and non-infectious disease states.

“In particular, we will make use of innovative imaging techniques, such as multiphoton microscopy, to identify selective and cell type-specific signatures of leukocyte migration,” says Professor Walzog. “As a long-term perspective, the SFB aims to contribute to the development of innovative concepts for therapeutic interventions during acute and chronic inflammatory diseases by specifically and selectively targeting the identified migratory patterns of distinct leukocyte subsets.” Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried and the Technical University of Munich, under the leadership of Professor Steffen Massberg, will also participate in the program. The scientific efforts of the SFB will be flanked by an Integrated Research Training Group on Leukocyte Trafficking, led by Professor Markus Sperandio of the Walter Brendel Center. SFB 914 is scheduled to begin on 1. July 2011, and will be funded by the DFG for four years in the first instance. The total budget for this period amounts to 9.6 million euros. (suwe/PH)


Professor Barbara Walzog
Walter Brendel Centre of Experimental Medicine at LMU
Phone: +49 (0) 89 / 2180 – 75414
Email: walzog@lrz.uni-muenchen.de