Macrophages as hide outs for pathogens
Welcome to the Clayton Lab! As a team, we aim to study macrophages as “hide outs” for pathogens. Macrophages are a type of immune cell responsible for phagocytosing debris and pathogens, initiating innate immune responses to pathogens, presenting antigen to T cells, and orchestrating the inflammatory response and wound healing. Some pathogens, such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), take up residency in macrophages. During an infection, CD8+ cytotoxic T cells (CTL) and natural killer (NK) cells attempt to eliminate infected cells, however, macrophages are a “hard-to-kill” cell type, allowing HIV to form long-lived reservoirs. Our goal is to understand how HIV-infected macrophages evade elimination by CTLs and NK cells, to determine whether these processes are also conserved for macrophages infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Ebola virus, and Cytomegalovirus, and design interventions that enhance macrophage killing for cure strategies.