Kwok Laboratory

Class II tetramer production

Tetramer reagents for more than 30 different HLA class II alleles are produced through the Tetramer Core Laboratory. These reagents can be used to study human CD4+ T cell responses over a wide cross section of the population. Class II tetramers that can be used for CYTOF mass cytometry are also being produced in the core laboratory.

T cell epitope discovery

A robust, generalized approach has been developed and implemented to systematically identify CD4+ T cell epitopes. This approach is applied to identify T cell epitopes within Categories A, B and C pathogens, tumor antigens, allergens and antigens associated with autoimmune diseases in humans.

Autoimmune disease

Tetramers and other antigen specific T cell assays are used to examine autoreactive T cells in type 1 diabetesmultiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus and other autoimmune diseases. Experiments are designed to determine the molecular mechanisms of HLA and autoimmune disease association. HLA that are linked to disease susceptibility or disease protection have been identified. Contrasting the behavior of T cells restricted by susceptible and protective HLA alleles should provide insights into disease mechanisms and suggest strategies for intervention.


Antigen specific assays are being applied to examine CD4+ T cell responses to environmental allergens such as dust mites, cat dander, pollens and food allergens such as peanut, tree nuts, milk and egg in non-allergic and allergic subjects. Allergen specific T cell responses are also being monitored during the course of immunotherapy. These studies should aid our understanding of the early stages of allergy development and suggest new strategies for therapy. New technology platforms, such as CyTOF and single cell RNAseq, are being used in some of these studies.

Infectious pathogens

Antigen specific assays are being used to study T cell responses against infectious pathogens such as varicella zoster,  clostridium difficile, seasonal and avian influenza, human rhinovirus, and Flaviviruses. Research participants that are exposed to these organisms by either infection or vaccination are recruited. Studies are carried out to characterize antigen-specific T cell responses and to dissect the underlying mechanism for the development of long lasting protective immune responses.

Antigen-specific immune responses

Other techniques are also being utilized to examine the collaboration between antigen-specific T cell and B cell responses.