PhD degree awarded to Maria Camila Tovar Fernandez

Maria Camila Tovar Fernandez has received a PhD degree from the University of Gdańsk after successfully defending her thesis: Origin of antigenic peptides in MHC class I pathway. The PhD project was conducted under the supervision of prof. Robin Fahraeus and assistant supervisor dr Alicja Sznarkowska.

A key component of the immune system’s capacity to distinguish between self and
non-self is the presentation of peptides on major histocompatibility complex class I
(MHC-I) molecules. A better understanding of the origin of neo-antigens will lead to a better comprehension of viral and cancer immune evasion. In this Ph.D. study, we show that autophagy processing of antigenic peptides for the MHC class I pathway is substrate-dependent and we illustrate a novel virus-mediated mechanism for immune evasion of autophagy-dependent antigen presentation. Furthermore, we have provided more evidence supporting the postulation that antigenic peptides are also derived from newly synthesized peptides by a specific noncanonical alternative translation event that occurs before mRNA splicing and performed a first preliminary approach trying to elucidate the riboproteome responsible for the synthesis of these antigenic peptides – explains Maria.

The thesis has been reviewed by dr Nuala Moone, Directeur de Recherche, INSERM UMR-S 976, dr hab. Anna Kurzyńska-Kokorniak, prof. PAN ICHB, Instytut Chemii Bioorganicznej PAN (Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry Polish Academy of Sciences), and dr hab. Beata Pająk,  Wojskowy Instytut Higieny i Epidemiologii (Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology).

More information can be found here.

Congratulations to Maria!