The Nunez Laboratory

The Nuñez laboratory is interested in signaling pathways regulating innate immunity, the pathogenesis of inflammatory disease and cancer. Specifically, the research focuses on mechanistic studies to understand the role of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) including Nod-like receptors (NLRs) and Toll-like receptors (TLRs) in the host immune response against microbial pathogens and endogenous damage signals. Current studies focus on models of intestinal and skin inflammation driven by microbial pathogens, commensal bacteria and sterile organ injury. Several approaches that include analyses of genetically modified mutant mice and biochemical studies are used to determine mechanisms involved in the interaction between microbial/endogenous molecules and NLRs. Several NLR proteins including Nod2 and Nlrp3 are mutated in patients with inflammatory diseases (Crohn's disease and autoinflammatory syndromes). Studies to understand how NLR mutant proteins lead to disease are a major effort of the laboratory. In addition, the role of the microbiota in the colonization of enteric pathogens and pathogen-driven intestinal inflammation is being studied using germ-free animals.