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Elizabeth Mellins - Professor of Pediatrics (Human Gene Therapy)

Bio-X Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Mellins's lab focuses on the study of antigen presentation by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules. They have been particularly interested in the molecular mechanisms and intracellular steps involved in the generation of complexes between MHC class II molecules and peptides. The lab's basic work in this area has elucidated the roles of invariant chain and HLA-DM, two molecules which regulate peptide-loading of class II molecules. The lab continues to study basic molecular mechanisms in antigen presentation by MHC class II molecules, focusing now on particular events in antigen presentation by B cells. In addition, they have an active program to understand the molecular basis of class II associations with autoimmune diseases. They have developed novel hypotheses in this area, which they have tested in animal models. Most recently, the lab has been focused on antigen presentation in celiac disease and are collaborating with Drs. Nielsen Fernandez-Becker, Chaitan Khosla and Calvin Kuo to use novel approaches to this question, including intestinal organoids.

Ongoing studies deal with:

  1. Analysis of the biosynthesis, structure, and structure/function relationships of the HLA-DM and HLA-DO molecules.
  2. Regulation of class II-restricted antigen presentation by professional antigen presenting cells, particularly B cells.
  3. Mechanistic basis of HLA allele association with autoimmune disease, with a recent focus on celiac disease.
  4. Disease mechanisms in systemic idiopathic juveile arthritis.