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The research in the Rattay Laboratory focuses on deciphering the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying central immune tolerance and the development of autoimmunity. A particular interest lies in the development and tissue homeostasis of the thymus, the organ in which T-cell development and selection occur.

The cell-cell communication between lymphocytes and thymic epithelial cells plays a pivotal role in lymphocyte migration and the establishment of central immune tolerance. The cellular crosstalk between thymic epithelial cells, endothelial cells and lymphocytes is studied using whole genome sequencing expression analysis, fluorescence high-resolution microscopy and 3D culture systems among other methods.

Thymic epithelial cells and dendritic cells present self-peptides on MHC to developing thymocytes and mediate thymic selection. The molecular mechanisms regulating self-peptide expression in thymic epithelial cells are studied using single cell and bulk RNA-sequencing, ATAC-sequencing, ChIP-sequencing and bioinformatic approaches.

A better understanding of thymic tissue homeostasis and cell-cell communication in health and disease will ultimately help to develop better treatments for autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases and thymic epithelial cancers such as thymoma and thymic carcinoma.