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Dr Milka Sarris

Research Interests

In order to fight infections, white blood cells (leukocytes) must navigate through complex tissue environments and locate sites of microbial presence. A crucial element in this process is their ability to interpret external input signals, in the form of attractive or repulsive cues. We want to understand how leukocytes search tissues and read guidance signals. Although leukocyte behaviour has been extensively interrogated in vitro, remarkably little is known about how these cells behave in situ. To this end, we exploit the transparent zebrafish larva, whose immune system resembles that of mammals but is more amenable to high-resolution in vivo imaging.

We explore the molecules that guide leukocytes to areas of infection or injury, how they propagate and become presented in tissues. Secondly, we study how leukocytes interpret these guidance cues, that is, how gradients of stimuli instruct leukocyte polarity, cytoskeletal dynamics and migration behaviour. We approach these questions using advanced microscopy techniques to monitor leukocyte dynamics and quantitative and statistical methods to determine how these dynamics are modulated by directional signals. We combine this with a variety of genetic or chemical manipulations, to functionally link molecular, cellular and tissue parameters of leukocyte guidance.

Keywords

leukocyte ; neutrophil ; innate immunity ; chemotaxis ; zebrafish ; cell motility

Key Publications

Deng Q, Sarris M, Bennin DA, Green JM, Herbomel P, Huttenlocher A. Localized bacterial infection induces systemic activation of neutrophils through Cxcr2 signaling in zebrafish. J Leukoc Biol. 2013 May;93(5):761-9.

Sarris M, Masson JB, Maurin D, Van der Aa LM, Boudinot P, Lortat-Jacob H, Herbomel P. Inflammatory chemokines direct and restrict leukocyte migration within live tissues as glycan-bound gradients. Curr Biol. 2012 Dec 18;22(24):2375-82.

Munoz-Suano A, Kallikourdis M, Sarris M, Betz AG. Regulatory T cells protect from autoimmune arthritis during pregnancy.
J Autoimmun. 2012 May;38(2-3):J103-8.

Sarris M, Betz AG. Live imaging of dendritic cell-Treg cell interactions. Methods Mol Biol. 2011;707:83-101.

Sarris M, Betz AG. Shine a light: imaging the immune system. Eur J Immunol. 2009 May;39(5):1188-202. 

Sarris M, Andersen KG, Randow F, Mayr L, Betz AG. Neuropilin-1 expression on regulatory T cells enhances their interactions with dendritic cells during antigen recognition.
Immunity. 2008 Mar;28(3):402-13.