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Alex Ritter

Research Interests

Supervisors: Professor Gillian Griffiths and Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, Bethesda

Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) are responsible for clearing the body of virally infected and tumorigenic cells. This task requires CTL to be highly motile and dynamic entities, capable of circumnavigating the body to identify and eliminate dangerous cells. CTL are serial killers, able to destroy multiple targets in quick succession. CTL must undergo a substantial rearrangement of cytoskeletal components and organelles during the process of target killing. The dynamic nature of CTL activity can be lost when we study static images of these cells. I employ a variety of live cell imaging modalities to study CTL as they transition from motile "hunter" when traversing tissues to active "killer" when they encounter a target, and back again. In particular, I investigate how CTL manipulate the actin and microtubule cytoskeletons to direct secretion of lytic granules toward a target cell regulate the amount of lytic material secreted in each encounter.   

Keywords

CTL ; live cell imaging ; cytoskeleton

Key Publications

Maike de la Roche, Alex T. Ritter, Karen L. Angus, Colin Dinsmore, Charles H. Earnshaw, Jeremy F. Reiter, and Gillian M. Griffiths. Hedgehog Signaling Controls T Cell Killing at the Immunological Synapse. Science 6 December 2013: 1247-1250. 

Ritter AT, Angus KL, Griffiths GM. The role of the cytoskeleton at the immunological synapse. Immunol Rev. 2013 Nov;256(1):107-17. 

Lui-Roberts WW, Stinchcombe JC, Ritter AT, Akhmanova A, Karakesisoglou I, Griffiths GM. Cytotoxic T lymphocyte effector function is independent of nucleus-centrosome dissociation. Eur J Immunol. 2012 Aug;42(8):2132-41. 

Daniele T, Hackmann Y, Ritter AT, Wenham M, Booth S, Bossi G, Schintler M, Auer-Grumbach M, Griffiths GM. A role for rab7 in the movement of secretory granules in cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Traffic. 2011 Jul;12(7):902-11.