I studied Physics Engineering at Politecnico di Milano (Milano, Italy), where I earned a bachelor’s degree followed by a master’s degree. Both of them consisted mainly of solid state physics classes, with a particular focus on semiconductors (for electronics and photonics application) and magnetic nanostructures. My first experience in research was at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Grenoble, France), where I spent 10 months working as a trainee for my master thesis project.
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Antibodies are the fundamental cellular component of adaptive immunity and have recently emerged as effective therapeutics, with their potential yet to be fully explored. The circulating antibody repertoire is extremely diverse, enabling the recognition of millions of potential antigens. However, comparative studies have established that different species have different mechanisms of generating this diversity. Cattle are so far unique, as the primary antigen recognition site of the antibody, the heavy chain CDR3, has a very broad range of sizes and conformations, including very long stalk-like structures. It has been hypothesised and to some extent now shown that these unique structures can recognise epitopes that would remain invisible to shorter human or mouse antibodies.
In a previous collaboration, our groups have shown that the cattle light chain repertoire is far more restricted than the heavy chain repertoire. Heavy and light chain heterodimeric pairing is required for functional antibody formation and initial protein expression studies have indicated that individual light chains preferentially pair with heavy chains of particular length. Structural analyses have demonstrated that the light chain can support the CDR3, with variants conferring or ablating antigen specificity without interacting directly with the epitope.
Applications to this studentship will open in early 2018.
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