Development and Function of
 Tumor-associated Regulatory T cells

A long-standing goal in the field of tumor immunology and immunotherapy is to stimulate the immune system to attack and eliminate cancer cells. A prime suspect thought to limit immune system responses to cancer is a class of white blood cells called regulatory T cells (T-regs) as they have the unique ability to inhibit many arms of the immune response. It is thought that modulation or elimination of these inhibitory T-regs in the tumor environment would enhance therapies aimed at eliciting effective anti-tumor immune responses. Despite recent advances in our understanding of T-reg biology, many fundamental questions remain unsolved. To address these and other important questions we have been studying regulatory T cells in mice that spontaneously develop prostate cancer. In recent work, we have identified a population of T-regs bearing a unique T cell antigen receptor (TCR) that consistently infiltrate prostate tumors. We will study the development and function of this tumor-associated T-reg population, identify and characterize the unknown antigen recognized by these cells, and study now tumor-associated T-regs function in the tumor microenvironment to modulated cancer development and inhibit anti-tumor immune responses.