The Huang Lab is composed of a group of biologists, statisticians, mathematicians and artists trying to understand the immune system using diverse techniques. The lab is primarily located in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University.
Our main question:
Embraced by trillions of microbes in the environment and the mammalian body, the immune system is restless and constantly balancing its response and tolerance towards its interacting agents. How does the mammalian immune system find its balance between effector and regulatory immune responses?
♣ Research Interest ♣
1. Regulatory T cell development and function:
T cells with regulatory function play pivotal roles in controlling pro-inflammatory responses to self- and foreign antigens, as well as to pathogenic and commensal microorganisms. One of the well-known regulatory T cell populations expresses a signature molecule, the transcription factor Foxp3. Others that are Foxp3– but express high levels of the immunosuppressive cytokine IL-10 also have potent immunoregulatory function. We are investigating signals involved in the TCR, cytokine and nutrient sensing pathways in the development and function of Foxp3+ and Foxp3–IL-10+ regulatory T cells.
2. Memory and homeostasis of CD8+ T cells:
CD8+ T cells respond to primary pathogenic antigens, develop immune memory and play critical roles in defending against reinfections. In addition to antigen/TCR interaction, the cytokine IL-4 drives innate memory phenotype, and lymphopenia allows homeostatic proliferation along with a robust memory-like phenotype. We are interested in understanding the difference and similarity of memory T cells generated through different routes and whether we can modulate such immune memory by targeting the TCR, cytokine, and metabolic pathways and/or their interactive networking.
3. Antiviral and immune modulating drug discovery:
Pulmonary viral infection is a leading cause of lung diseases and deaths in the world. Viral infection is often complicated by immunopathology due to unspecific host immune responses triggered by the pathogens. Antiviral drugs that also have immune modulating effects will help increase chances of survival of patients during pandemics caused by emerging pathogens. We have established pseudoviral infection systems to screen, in high throughput, candidate drugs that are antiviral, low in cytotoxicity, and have immunomodulatory effects. This system is currently being exploited to study SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A.