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Institute for Research in Biomedicine
Istituto di Ricerca in Biomedicina

Via Vincenzo Vela 6 - CH-6500 Bellinzona
Tel. +41 91 820 0300 - Fax +41 91 820 0302 - info [at] irb [dot] usi [dot] ch

T Cell Development

Fabio Grassi, Group Leader

Elisa Civanelli, Benedetta De Ponte Conti , Tanja Rezzonico Jost, Lisa Perruzza, Matteo Raneri, Morena Scantamburlo

Adenosine-triphosphate (ATP) is the source of chemical energy for the majority of cellular functions, serves as a substrate in signal transduction pathways and is incorporated into nucleic acids during DNA replication and transcription. In addition, eukaryotic cells release ATP, which acts as a signalling molecule in an autocrine/paracrine fashion by activating purinergic P2 receptors in the plasma membrane. The research in the lab focuses on the purinergic regulation of T cell physiology, namely T cell receptor (TCR) driven signalling, gene expression and fate determination at various stages of development. Purinergic receptors include non-selective cationic channels (named P2X) and G protein coupled receptors (named P2Y). In the T cell P2X7 is the most abundantly expressed receptor subtype, and has profound impact on T cell responsiveness and metabolism. Prolonged P2X7 stimulation or high concentration of ATP determine the opening of a pore permeable to molecules up to 900 Da and cell death. P2X7 transcription is developmentally regulated in T cells. We aim at understanding the role of P2X7 in regulating T cell homeostasis and adaptive immunity in different physiological and pathological conditions. We are currently investigating purinergic regulation of T cell metabolism and gut associated lymphoid system as well as mucosal immunity.