Irah King

Assistant Professor

Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Duff Medical Building - Room 406
3775 University Street
Montreal, QC H3A 2B4

Tel: (514) 398-7325
Lab: (514) 398-7528
Fax: (514) 398-7052
Lab website:


Research description

The ability to generate robust and specific antibodies to diverse infectious agents is a fundamental property of the adaptive immune system that is critical for host survival. This response, termed humoral immunity, requires highly coordinated interactions within the secondary lymphoid organs between B lymphocytes (which possess antibody-producing potential) and “helper” T cells. Only recently has it become clear that a particular subset of these helper T cells possess the unique ability to enter the B cell follicles of the lymphoid organs and provide direct help to B cells through provision of membrane-bound co-stimulatory molecules and secretion of B cell-polarizing cytokines. As a result, this T cell subset has been aptly named T follicular helper (Tfh) cells. My previous work has identified novel subsets of innate and adaptive T cells capable of providing help to B cells through provision of both cognate and soluble factors. Most notably, I found Tfh cells to be the dominant interleukin (IL)-4 producing cell in the reactive lymph node of helminth-infected mice, a model of Th2-driven immunity. Given the established importance of IL-4 in both humoral immunity to infection and Th2-driven diseases such as allergy and asthma, this setting of infection provides an ideal platform to investigate fundamental mechanisms of Tfh as well as Th2 cell differentiation. Although significant progress has recently been made in the study of Th2 and Tfh cell biology, fundamental questions remain with particular regard to their requirements for differentiation and persistence in the context of diverse settings of infection and immunity. The overall goals of my research program are to 1) identify the cellular and molecular requirements for Tfh and Th2 cell differentiation, 2) how they function to generate protective humoral immunity to infection and 3) determine the mechanisms by Tfh cells localize and persist in the germinal center niche during chronic infection.


Publications - Irah King