The Sant’Angelo lab works on transcription factors that define T cell effector functions. In particular, the lab has focused on the genes that induce a subset of T cells, natural killer T (NKT) cells, to take on “innate-like” characteristics. These studies led to the discovery of the transcription factor, PLZF (promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger), which has proved to be the master regulator for NKT cell effector functions. The 49 members of the PLZF-related family are proving to be key factors that define and maintain the functional identity of lymphocytes. It is now clear that understanding this gene family will have a profound impact on our understanding of the overall complexity of the immune response.
The Sant’Angelo lab works to understand the relationship between altered or inappropriate expression of these transcription factors and the onset of diseases, ranging from autoimmunity, to asthma to obesity. We study both mouse and human immune cells using techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9, RNA-seq, single cell transcriptome analysis and multi-parameter flow cytometry.
The Sant’Angelo lab is part of the Child Health Institute of New Jersey (CHINJ), which is located on the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers. The resident scientists of CHINJ work to understand the causes and mechanisms of childhood diseases and to translate research discoveries into prevention, treatment and cures. CHINJ is closely affiliated with the physicians of RWJ Medical School and the NJ Cancer Institute, which helps the Sant’Angelo lab develop translational research opportunities.