Welcome to the Division of Immunobiology

Molecular Regulation of T Cell Development and T Cell-mediated Immunity

T lymphocytes (T cells) are key cellular players in the regulation and execution of immune responses in response to foreign pathogens and also against endogenous danger such as cancer cells. Naïve CD4+ T cells will, upon activation by antigen-presenting cells (APC), differentiate into various effector T helper (Th) subsets including Th1, Th2, Th17, Tfh and peripherally induced regulatory T cells (pTreg) cell subsets. The type of effector Th cell generated depends on the nature of the antigenic stimulus and the cytokine microenvironment at the site of antigen recognition. Each lineage is characterized by a set of key transcription factors and distinct cytokine expression profiles, although Th subset lineage identity is not fixed and plasticity of Th cells has been demonstrated. Due to their distinct cytokine profile, each subset fulfills specific functions and is essential for the efficient elimination of particular types of pathogens such as extracellular and intracellular bacteria, fungi or helminths. Moreover, some subsets (i.e. regulatory T cells) are essential for regulating immune tissue homeostasis and self-tolerance. Similarly, naïve CD8+ T cells have to be activated to acquire their cytotoxic effector functions. The activation processes of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells have to be tightly regulated, since dysregulation of effector T cell differentiation and function is linked with the development of immune-mediated diseases such as allergy, chronic inflammation and autoimmunity. Molecular and cellular insight into the control of T cell function is therefore of high medical relevance. The possibility for specific manipulation of T cell responses might be crucial for dampening immune responses in autoimmune diseases and in transplantation settings, for boosting T cell-mediated immunity during infection and to improve vaccination strategies, or for enhancing T cell responses to fight cancer cells.

Our long-term research interest is to characterize molecular mechanisms that regulate the development and function of T lymphocytes. With our studies we aim to provide important and medical relevant insight into the regulation of T cell-mediated immunity. In ongoing studies we address the following research topics:

• The role of histone deacetylases in the regulation of T cell-mediated immunity
• Transcriptional control of T cell development
• Regulation of peripheral T cell function and maintenance of T cell lineage identity and integrity

The experimental strategies to address our research interests include multi-color flow-cytometry, a variety of immunological tools, biochemical and molecular approaches, retroviral-mediated gene transduction into hematopoietic stem cells, next generation sequencing and mouse molecular genetics tools.


++ 04/2020 - New publication in Frontiers Immunology: NCOR1 Orchestrates Transcriptional Landscapes and Effector Functions of CD4 + T Cells <link>
++ 02/2020 - New publication in JCI Insight: Histone Deacetylases 1 and 2 Restrain CD4+ Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte Differentiation <link>

++ 01/2020 - Wilfried Ellmeier starts his term as president of the Biomedical Alliance in Europe <link>
++ 12/2019 - New publication in Cell Reports: The Transcription Factor MAZR/PATZ1 Regulates the Development of FOXP3+ Regulatory T Cells <link>
++ 10/2019 - Wilfried Ellmeier is part of the organizing team that hosts the IUIS2025 congress in Vienna <link>
++ 06/2019 - Shinya Sakaguchi has been appointed as Associate Professor <link>
++ 05/2019 - New publication of the Sakaguchi laboratory: The zinc-finger transcription factor MAZR regulates iNKT cell subset differentiation <link>
++ 04/2019 - Wilfried Ellmeier has been appointed as member of the FWF Board (Kuratorium) <link>
++ 03/2019 - New publication in Frontiers in Immunology: Differential Requirement of Cd8 Enhancers E8I and E8VI in Cytotoxic Lineage T Cells and in Intestinal Intraepithelial Lymphocytes <link>
++ 12/2018 - Wilfried Ellmeier and Nicole Boucheron are part of a newly established Special Research Program (SFB): HDACs as regulators of T cell-mediated immunity in health and disease (funded by the Austrian Science Fund; FWF) (W. Ellmeier is speaker and project leader of the SFB; N. Boucheron is project leader) <link press release> <www.meduniwien.ac.at/HIT>

Institute of Immunology (IFI)
Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology (CePII)

The Division of Immunobiology is part of the Institute of Immunology (IFI), which has been established in the year 1967. IFI is part of the Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology, Immunology (CePII), which hosts most of the research laboratories of the preclinical medical school working in the field of pathophysiology, allergy, infectiology and immunology.

Immunology Research Cluster (IRC)

The Immunology Research Cluster (IRC) is a network of more than 80 research groups at the Medical University of Vienna with a strong research focus on Allergy, Inflammation & Infection. The overall aim of IRC is to strengthen the research environment and support in the field of Immunology and to foster translational approaches for the benefit of the patient. In addition, IRC members are dedicated at providing excellent research and training opportunities for PhD students and postdoctoral fellows.

Doctoral program "Inflammation & Immunity"(IAI)

We are part of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)/MedUni Wien doctoral program "Inflammation and Immunity" (IAI). IAI is an international PhD and MD/PhD Program focusing on Inflammation and Immunity that integrates basic, applied and clinical sciences to provide comprehensive and cutting-edge research training.

Doc.Fund PhD Program "Molecular & Cellular Control of Tissue Homeostasis in Health & Disease - TissueHome"

We are part of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)/MedUni Wien doctoral program "TissueHome", which is an international PhD Program focusing on tissue barriers that rely on complex immune surveillance mechanisms to sense external signals, including pathogenic damages or barrier-specific commensal microbiota. TissueHome offers interdisciplinary and interuniversity training for PhD students in state-of-the-art immunology and infection biology techniques, as well as tailored transferable skills training.

Biomedical Alliance in Europe

The Biomedical Alliance in Europe (BioMed Alliance) is the result of a unique initiative of leading European medical societies that together include more than 400,000 researchers and health professionals. The BioMed Alliance was created in 2010 to gather strength across different disciplines and areas in biomedical and health research at European level.

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