Professor / University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota, Center for Immunology 3-188 WMBB CDC: 2641C 2101 6th St SE Minneapolis, MN 55455
Dr. Jenkins investigates CD4+ T and B cell activation in vivo by directly tracking antigen-specific cells. The goal of this research is to develop a basic understanding of lymphocyte activation that can be used to improve vaccines and prevent autoimmunity.
Jenkins’ lab is focused on investigating how the set of naïve CD4+ T cells in an individual are formed. To study this problem, they developed a peptide:MHCII tetramer and flow cytometry-based cell enrichment method to detect rare naïve CD4+ T cells specific for MHCII-bound foreign peptides.
Dr. Jenking and his team discovered that the number of naïve CD4+ T cells that recognize different MHCII-bound foreign peptides varies from peptide to peptide, and they also found that larger naïve populations gave rise to larger immune responses. Their goal is to figure out why naïve cell T cell populations vary in size even before the host has been exposed to the peptide.
Dr. Jenkins and his lab are also interested in exploring the process that leads to immune memory by CD4+ T cells. This process begins during infection when naive CD4+ T cells expressing specific TCRs bind MHCII-bound microbial peptides and proliferate and differentiate into macrophage- or B cell-helping effector cells.
It culminates when some of the effector cells become long-lived memory cells capable of rapid secondary responses. The lab is working on several fundamental questions related to this process and is trying to understand how macrophage- and B cell-helping effector cells are generated simultaneously from a seemingly homogenous population of naïve cells.