Antigenic peptide prediction in inflammatory diseases


Principal Investigator

Prof. Dr. rer. nat.

Associated Principal Investigator

Background and current state of research

For Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), the main entities of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), our recent genetic association analyses have identified more than 200 risk loci [1-2]. Especially a strong evidence of association to the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) has been identified and therefore a high-density mapping of MHC was recently performed to identify causal candidate alleles [3].

To this end, only a fraction of the disease etiology can be attributed to genetic susceptibility and major environmental factors and triggers of the disease remain to be identified [4]. IBD may be an autoimmune disease or a dysregulated immune response against environmental antigens such as certain gut bacteria of a dysbiosed microbiota [5-6].

Our goals

On the basis of the knowledge of different risk factors for IBD we aim to find out if there are candidate antigens that are responsible to induce the inflammation. We will base our research on state-of-the-art fine mapping data for the major histocompatibility complex. The comprehension of the exact immunogenetics and the disturbed immunology might  lead to the development of potential vaccines or to environmental risk factors that can be changed.

How to get there

We aim to identify epitopes that bind specifically to the risk alleles or the protective alleles. To deal with the huge number of known epitopes we will use sophisticated computational approaches for reducing the number of candidate peptides.

In this subproject we will collaborate with the Bioinformatics Group of Prof. Shoba Ranganathan at the Macquarie University Sydney, which is specialized among others in structural biology.

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