Polarity & skin immunity

Tissue-scale control of epidermal immunity by polarity networks in homeostasis and disease

The skin forms our outermost barrier to pathogens, water loss, mechanical or chemical insults, but is also home to a range of commensals. Therefore, the skin immune system has to distinguish harmless foreign and self-antigens from pathogen-derived antigens to induce appropriate tolerance or protective immune responses. Intact skin immunity is essential for host defence, whereas deregulated immune responses can cause inflammatory skin diseases. In this project, we aim to shed light on the interplay between resident immunocytes and the surrounding tissue to better understand pathomechanisms related to inflammation, autoimmunity, cancer, or graft-versus-host disease, and potentially to refine immunotherapies. Results from this project may also help identify basic principles of tissue homeostasis as well as pathophysiological mechanisms linked to disturbed cell polarity. Moreover, findings obtained by studying mammalian skin might be relevant for the pathogenesis of other barrier-forming organs such as lung, kidney and intestine.