Infection and Immunology

Korn, Thomas

Development and regulation of pathogenic T cell responses in CNS autoimmunity

In our research, we try to understand why autoreactive T cell responses can result in organ specific autoimmunity like multiple sclerosis or neuromyelitis optica. Autoreactive T cells occur in any "normal" T cell repertoire, but are kept in check by mechanisms of dominant tolerance like for example regulatory T cells (Tregs). We are interested in identifying molecular switches and cytokine networks that break immunological tolerance in the peripheral immune compartment and direct the fate of an autoreactive T cell to become autopathogenic. Validation of molecular targets is performed in animal models of multiple sclerosis like for example experimental autoimmune encephalomyelits.

Selected publications:

Garg G, Muschaweckh A, Moreno H, Vasanthakumar A, Floess S, Lepennetier G, Oellinger R, Zhan Y, Regen T, Hiltensperger M, Peter C, Aly L, Knier B, Palam LR, Kapur R, Kaplan MH, Waisman A, Rad R, Schotta G, Huehn J, Kallies A & Korn T. (2019) Blimp1 prevents methylation of Foxp3 and loss of regulatory T cell identity at sites of inflammation. Cell reports, 26 (7): 1854-1868.e5.

Knier B, Hiltensperger M, Sie C, Aly L, Lepennetier G, Engleitner T, Garg G, Muschaweckh A, Mitsdörffer M, Koedel U, Höchst B, Knolle P, Gunzer M, Hemmer B, Rad R, Merkler D & Korn T. (2018) Myeloid-derived suppressor cells control B cells within the central nervous system during autoimmunity. Nature Immunology, 19 (12): 1341-1351.

Heink S, Yogev N, Garbers C, Herwerth M, Aly L, Gasperi C, Husterer V, Croxford AL, Möller-Hackbarth K, Bartsch HS, Sotlar K, Krebs S, Regen T, Blum H, Hemmer B, Misgeld T, Wunderlich TF, Hidalgo J, Oukka M, Rose-John S, Schmidt-Supprian M, Waisman A & Korn T. (2017) Dendritic cells are non-redundant sources of IL-6 for the priming of pathogenic Th17 cells due to a novel mode of IL-6 signaling. Nature Immunology, 18: 74-85.

Petermann F, Rothhammer V, Claussen MC, Haas JD, Riol-Blanco L, Heink S, Prinz I, Hemmer B, Kuchroo VK, Oukka M & Korn T. (2010) γδ T cells enhance autoimmunity by restraining Treg responses via an IL-23 dependent mechanism. Immunity, 33: 351-363.

Korn T, Bettelli E, Gao W, Awasthi A, Jäger A, Strom TB, Oukka M & Kuchroo VK. (2007) IL-21 initiates an alternative pathway

Korn T, Reddy J, Gao W, Bettelli E, Awasthi A, Petersen TR, Bäckström BT, Sobel RA, Wucherpfennig KW, Strom TB, Oukka M & Kuchroo VK. (2007) Myelin-specific regulatory T cells accumulate in the CNS but fail to control autoimmune inflammation. Nature Medicine, 13: 423-431.