Our interests lie in the communication between different cell types of the immune system, specifically the mechanisms controlling cellular trafficking, multicellular organization and lymphoid organ architecture. We use the lymph node as our model system for investigating these processes.

The lymph node is a highly organized and tightly controlled environment. The dynamic nature of lymph node swelling and contraction is critical to all immune responses and is not well understood. We want to understand the processes involved in lymph node swelling/expansion, and how these changes are coordinated. The interplay between immune cells and non-haematopeotic stromal cells is key to this process.

There are many parallels between the cells interacting in the lymph node during an immune response, and the interactions happening in a tumour. Many of the same or similar cell types are present but a tumour is a hugely disorganised mess, and even worse, every tumour is different. One of the major benefits of our research, is that we can use the lymph node model to both understand immunity, but also take those findings and apply that knowledge to the same cells in tumours, helping to understand cancer better, and hopefully find ways to harness our immune system to fight and destroy tumours.

Key Publications

Martinez V.G., Pankova V., Kasny L.., Singh T., White I.J., Benjamin, A.C., Dertschnig S., Horsnell H.L., Kriston-Vizi J., Burden J., Huang P.H., Tape, C.J., Acton S.E. Fibroblastic reticular cells control conduit matrix deposition during lymph node expansion. Cell Reports 2019

Acton S.E., Farrugia A.J., Astarita J.L., Mourão-Sá D., Jenkins R.P., Nye E., Hooper S., van Blijswijk J., Rogers N.C., Snelgrove K.J., Rosewell I., Moita L.F., Stamp G., Turley S.J., Sahai E., Reis e Sousa C. CLEC-2+ Dendritic Cells Control Fibroblastic Reticular Network Tension and Lymph Node Expansion. Nature 2014 514, 498–502

Acton S.E., Astarita J.L., Malhotra D., Lukacs-Kornek V., Franz B., Hess P.R., Jakus Z., Kuligowski M., Fletcher A.L., Elpek K.G., Bellemare-Pelletier A., Sceats L., Reynoso E.D., Gonzalez S.F., Graham D.B., Chang J., Peters A., Woodruff M., Kim Y.A., Swat W., Morita T., Kuchroo V., Carroll M.C., Kahn M.L., Wucherpfennig K.W., Turley S.J. Podoplanin-Rich Stromal Networks Induce Dendritic Cell Motility via Activation of the C-type Lectin Receptor CLEC-2. Immunity. 2012 37(2):276-89

Acton, S.E., & Reis E Sousa, C. Dendritic cells in remodeling of lymph nodes during immune responses. Immunological reviews, 271 (1), 221-229.

Fletcher A.L., Acton S.E., and Knoblich K. (2015) Lymph node fibroblastic reticular cells in health and disease. Nature Reviews Immunology 2015 15, 350–361