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Francois Van Laethem, Ph.D.

Portait Photo of Francois Van Laethem
Experimental Immunology Branch
Lymphocyte Development Section
Staff Scientist
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Building 10, Room 3N119
Bethesda, MD 20892-1360
Fax Number not listed


In 2002, Dr. Francois Van Laethem came to the Experimental Immunology Branch of the National Cancer Institute. He completed his previous doctoral work in the laboratory of Professor J. Urbain at the Free University of Brussels (Universite Libre de Bruxelles) in his native Belgium under the supervision of Dr. Oberdan Leo. His interest in immune signaling and development began during this PhD where he studied the effects of glucocorticoids on TCR signaling. As a postdoctoral fellow and staff scientist, Dr. Van Laethem has been addressing a fundamental cornerstone of modern immunology, namely the basis for MHC-restriction using several new KO and transgenic mouse models.


Dr. Van Laethem's research is focused on coreceptors and the tyrosine kinase Lck during T cell development. Lck is an essential tyrosine kinase that is required for T cell receptor (TCR) signaling during all stages of T cell development. Dr. Van Laethem is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms that make abT cell recognition only focused on MHC. Dr. Van Laethem's research has documented that alpha-beta T cell recognition need not be MHC-restricted as MHC-restriction is imposed on developing thymocytes by coreceptor-mediated Lck sequestration.

Dr. Van Laethem is also interested in the identification of ligands that are recognized by abT cells that develop in the absence of coreceptors and MHC. One ligand that has been found is the surface protein CD155, which is expressed by all hematopoietic cells. T cell receptors specific for this ligand have been cloned and studied in detail both in vitro and in vivo. Dr. Van Laethem's research has shown that CD155 is recognized by MHC-independent T cell receptors and the thymic ligand necessary for the selection of CD155-specific T cells. Dr. Van Laethem is currently identifying more MHC-independent ligands.

This page was last updated on 6/2/2014.