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Centre for Trophoblast Research



My research in Francesco Colucci lab aims to elucidate the mechanisms underlying NKG2A-driven NK cell education. Education, is a process through which NK cells acquire their functions and is driven by NK cell surface receptors engaging with self MHC-I. Such receptors include Ly49 receptors family in mice, KIRs in humans, and NKG2A in both species. NKG2A engages with Qa-1 in mice, and HLA-E in humans, whose expression depends on peptides derived from classical MHC-I molecules (A,B,C).  A dimorphism in HLA-B (M or T at position -21) determines whether an individual produces functional peptides for high HLA-E expression and therefore NKG2A-mediated education.

We recently demonstrated that NKG2A absence in maternal NK cells influences pregnancy outcome in mice, and that the HLA-B allele which favors NKG2A education, is associated with a smaller risk of preclampsia. My research aims to elucidate the mechanisms at the basis of these phenotypes.

Further, I study how the HLA-B dimorphism described above, influences NKG2A+ cells response to viral peptides presented by HLA-E.

Besides, I have a keen interest in NK cell response to vira infection, vaccines and global health.


Key publications: 

N Shreeve, DM Depierreux, D Hawkes, JA Traherne, U Sovio, O Huhn, J Jayaraman, A Horowitz, H Ghadially, JRB Perry, A Moffett, JG Sled, AM Sharkey, F Colucci (2021) ‘NKG2A educates uterine NK cells to optimise pregnancy outcomes in humans and mice’, Immunity, in press

DM Depierreux*, E Seshadri*, EV Shmeleva*, DA Hawkes, I Filipovic, F Colucci ‘Isolation of uterine innate lymphoid cells for analysis by flow cytometry’. JoVE, submitted

DM Depierreux, M Vong, ML Nibert (2016) ‘Nucleotide sequence of Zygosaccharomyces bailii virus Z: Evidence for +1 programmed ribosomal frameshifting and for assignment to family Amalgaviridae’, Virus Research, Volume 217, Pages 115-124

Research Associate, PDN
Not available for consultancy