Dr. Wei Cao
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Immunology
The research in the laboratory focuses on 1) the immune function played by surface receptors associated with dendritic cells and 2) host-derived factors driving autoimmunity. A strong interest of our lab is in human plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), a special dendritic cell subset. pDC's play a critical role in anti-viral innate immune responses by secreting large quantities of IFNα/β; yet uncontrolled pDC activation and IFN production are associated with autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE) and psoriasis. We have researched several pDC specific surface receptors and demonstrated an important molecular mechanism initiated by pDC receptors to regulate pDCs' innate immunity. The current research aims to reveal the biology of pDCs through investigating receptor-ligand interaction and dissecting the implicated signaling pathways. Separately, we are interested in the biology of a class of aberrant endogenous proteins that are capable of interacting with nucleic acids and initiating activation of intracellular innate immune receptors. These molecules may play an role to promote autoimmune reactions of the host.
Depending on the student's interests, a tutorial in my laboratory would provide experience with isolation of primary immune cells from human peripheral blood, fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), molecular cloning for gene expression and functional analysis, DNA transduction into different cell types, quantitative real-time PCR analysis, producing and purification of recombinant proteins, analyzing secreted cytokines/proteins by ELISA...
Office: MDA SCR4.2017 (Unit 902)
Title: Assistant Professor
Ph.D. - University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill - 1995