Natural killer (NK) cells mediate important anti-pathogen and anti-tumour effects. Their effectiveness in mounting these protective immune function is shaped by past infections. Cytomegalovirus (CMV), which infects 60- 80% of healthy individuals, has a particularly striking effect on NK cell maturation. We recently completed single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) of NK cells from patients undergoing CMV reactivation following bone marrow transplantation. The current project will use this unique set of single-cell data to investigate the changes in metabolism and acquisition of effector function during virus-driven NK cell maturation, and how these interact with the different combinations of activating and inhibitory receptors expressed by individual NK cell. This project is important because virus-driven NK cell maturation has an impact on NK cell anti-tumour efficacy and the findings can point to ways to make NK cells more effective ‘killers’ for cancer immunotherapy.
Suitable for Honours and PhD students.