Prof. Berit Jungnickel and her team are investigating the biology of B-lymphocytes, cells of the adaptive immune system. There are two main focuses:
A) Mechanisms and regulation of somatic hypermutation, which changes the genes of our antibodies during acute infections, resulting in the production of effective antibodies. However, this pathway also changes non-antibody genes to a lesser extend, which could lead to genetic instability of B cells and the development of lymphomas. We examine the basic mechanisms of this process and the regulatory pathways.
B) B cell reaction against Candida albicans, a fungus that lives as a benign commensal on human mucosal membranes. However, upon immune suppression, Candida albicans can change into a pathogen and killer. We investigate how B cells react to Candida infections and how antibodies may play a role in defence.