Dissecting Allorecognition in Botryllus schlosseri
Allorecognition is the ability to distinguish self versus non‐self amongst members of the same species. The most well‐studied system of allorecognition is through the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) in jawed vertebrates' immunity. Interestingly, any species that predates the oldest known jawed vertebrates (sharks), do not have anything resembling the MHC or related components. Botryllus schlosseri belongs to a group of organisms known as tunicates which is believed to be the closest living group to vertebrates. We are studying this organism to determine (1) how other organisms develop their allorecognition system and (2) how the components in their system are educated to identify self/non‐self markers. The overarching goal of this research is to investigate the molecular mechanism and known components of this system from Botryllus schlosseri. In order to do so, we utilize different systems such as protein expression in mammalian and bacterial system to start characterizing each component identified previously in the lab. The intern's project is part of this characterization process using mammalian tissue culture to observe basic cellular localization.