Melpi Kasapi '16, Associate Professor of Biology Sophia Sarafova and Chika Fujii '17 (pictured l-r) presented a research poster at the Midwinter Conference of Immunologists in Asilomar, California.
Their research focused on how helper T cells, which coordinate the immune response, express a protein called CD4 on their cell surface. In order to visualize how the amount and timing of CD4 production influences the development and function of helper T cells, students in Sarafova's lab genetically engineered DNA, which when introduced into mice makes their CD4-expressing cells turn fluorescent green.
Helper T cells are sometimes called the "conductors" of the immune system because they coordinate activity like the conductor of a symphony. They have also been called the "generals" of the immune system because they call up troops of B cells, cytotoxic T cells and other helper T cells to go into battle against invading pathogens.