Research in the Ploegh Lab
The Ploegh lab studies molecular aspects of immune recognition, using chemical, cell biological and biochemical approaches, complemented by appropriate in vivo models. We are particularly interested in the use of nanobodies (single domain antibody fragments derived from camelid heavy chain-only immunoglobulins) for non-invasive imaging by positron emission tomography. This has made it possible, for the first time, to track immune responses non-invasively, as shown for tumors in response to checkpoint blockade, next to be extended to infectious disease and autoimmunity. These same nanobodies can be modified with cytokines to re-engineer the tumor micro-environment and create more effective forms of immunotherapy.
We are using Cas9/CRISPR methods to modify immunoglobulin germ line genes with sequence tags that enable site-specific modification of B cell receptors to visualize and track their behavior. These tools provide unique new models to study aspects of B cell activation that have so far defied a straight-forward analysis.
The lab also maintains an active interest in protein quality control, with particular emphasis on the ubiquitin-proteasome system.
Hidde Ploegh obtained his Master of Science degree in biology and chemistry in 1977 from the University of Groningen, and pursued his Ph.D. studies in the lab of Jack Strominger. He received a doctorate from the University of Leiden. He has worked at the University of Cologne, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Utrecht University, and Harvard Medical School, and is a member of the Whitehead Institute. Ploegh is member of EMBO and of the National Academy of Sciences.