Project: Neural regulation of anti-cancer immunity
Tissues are innervated by fibres of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which release SNS neurotransmitters during stress. SNS neurotransmitters bind to adrenoceptors (ARs) on multiple cell types to induce genomic and functional changes. Studies have shown that immunity is compromised during times of stress, raising the possibility that SNS signalling impairs immune cell functions. However, little is known about the mechanisms of SNS neurotransmitter signalling on the cells of the immune system. We have discovered that adrenergic receptor signalling inhibits the migration of immune cells within tissues, and impacts protective immunity against infections and cancer. This project will investigate sympathetic innervation of tumours and how neural signals impact immune responses in the tumour microenvironment in order to design new therapies to treat cancer.
Research in the Mueller group is focused on examining immune responses to acute and chronic viral infections and to tumours. We are using state-of-the-art methods, including intravital 2-photon microscopy to visualise immune cells and pathogens in real time. We are examining how T cells are activated and protect against infections, the induction of immune memory and tissue-resident memory T cells, and the role of stromal cells and nerves in tissues for the design of new vaccines and therapeutics.