Trafficking of T cells is crucial for every phase of T cell function from the initiation of the immune response to effector function at the site of inflammation. T cells move into the lymph node, where they migrate through the tissue to maximize the chances of encountering an antigen bearing dendritic cell. Once activated, T cells then migrate to inflammatory sites to perform effector functions to clear infection. T cell migration has also been shown to be an important mediator of disease states including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. While the process of T cell migration is critical to immune function, relatively little is known about the specific molecules that control T cell migration. Understanding the basic mechanisms that regulate T cell movement can provide insight into a fundamental T cell function and may lead to novel therapeutic targets to modulate the immune response and disease states.
The Cannon laboratory is focused on defining and understanding the fundamental mechanisms that control T cell migration to and within lymph nodes. We use a combination of cutting edge imaging techniques to visualize T cell movement in living tissues along with computational modeling tools to answer questions about how specific types of motility affect T cell function. We use a wide range of techniques to assess T cell function, including flow cytometry, confocal microscopy, and standard biochemistry to understand the effect of signaling molecules on T cell trafficking. We have also developed 2-photon microscopy to visualize the movement of T cells in living tissue from mice.