Institutes

Genomics of the innate immune system

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Group Leader

Renato Ostuni

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Theis group employs a multidisciplinary approach that combines high-throughput and single-cell genomics, genome engineering and functional studies to dissect the principles of immune cell development and functions. Building on relevant mouse models and uniquely available clinical samples, the aim is to decipher the complex networks of signaling pathways, transcription factors (TF), chromatin regulators and non-coding RNAs that control gene expression in the innate immune system.

Research activity

The research focuses on two areas:
  • Homeostatic and stress-induced development of the human innate immune system. In this project, the group uses cutting-edge genomics and single-cell transcriptomics technologies to explore stress-induced human myelopoiesis in sets of clinical samples collected longitudinally throughout allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) and BM transplantation procedures. This research will uncover the cellular and molecular mechanisms of immune reconstitutions after chemotherapy, with direct implications for HSC gene therapy and treatment of hematological malignancies.
  • Genomic and transcriptional control of tumor-associated macrophages. The group aims to dissect how macrophage functions are affected by complex combination of environmental stimuli during homeostasis and disease, with a focus on cancer. Tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) frequently display a “mixed” polarization state characterized by concomitant pro- and anti- inflammatory activities that support, rather than suppress, tumor growth. In the lab, the aim is to define the phenotype and functions of TAM, and to develop innovative cell and gene therapy strategies to therapeutically reprogram macrophage activities.