Thierry Mallevaey

Thierry Mallevaey PhD
Associate Professor
Thierry Mallevaey photo
Contact Info
T: (416) 978-7736
F: (416) 978-1938
St. George Campus
University of Toronto, Medical Sciences Building
1 King's College Circle, Room 7334
Toronto, ON, M5S1A8
Grad Students Must First Apply Through Department
Research Interests
Lipid immunity, iNK T-cells, CD1, Microbiota, Inflammation, Cancer

invariant Natural Killer T cells

The mammalian immune system contains unconventional T cells that recognize lipids presented by antigen-presenting molecules of the CD1 family. Lipid-reactive T cells are more prevalent and complex in humans than in mice, because humans express four CD1 isoforms (CD1a-d), whereas mice only express CD1d. Most of our understanding of lipid immunity mainly focuses on a subset of CD1d-restricted T cells called invariant Natural Killer T (iNKT) cells.

Our overarching objective is to understand how lipid-reactive T cells develop and function, in order to target them in immunotherapies.

iNKT cells exert innate-like functions, and are conserved among most mammals. Upon activation, iNKT cells produce copious amounts of cytokines and chemokines within only minutes, which influence many other innate and adaptive immune cells. Consistent with this, iNKT cells can suppress or enhance immune responses during cancer, autoimmunity, allergy and infection. The array of functions carried out by iNKT cells highlight their functional flexibility in vivo. Although the mechanisms underlying their functional plasticity are poorly understood, the perspective of manipulating iNKT cell responses holds great promise to treat various diseases.

Our main research projects currently focus on:

  1. The mechanisms by which iNKT cells develop and acquire their innate effector functions. We use genetically-modified mouse models, retrovirus-mediated gene deliver and/or silencing, as well as in vitro models of T cell development.
  2. How iNKT cells and the intestinal microbiota influence each other, and how these interactions impact on the development of intestinal inflammation or cancer. We use germ-free mice, fecal transplant approaches, colonization with candidate microbes and established animal models of colitis.
  3. The development of novel reagents to identify and track other lipid-reactive T cells. We use nanotechnologies in collaboration with biochemists and chemical engineers. We focus primarily on the elusive CD1d-restricted diverse Natural Killer T (dNKT) cells.

Publications and Awards

Recent Publications

(trainees underlined)

  1. The Protein Phosphatase Shp1 Regulates Invariant NKT Cell Effector Differentiation Independently of TCR and Slam Signaling. Cruz Tleugabulova M, Zhao M, Lau I, Kuypers M, Wirianto C, Umaña JM, Lin Q, Kronenberg M, Mallevaey T. J Immunol. 2019 Apr 15;202(8):2276-2286.
  2. SLAM receptors foster iNKT cell development by reducing TCR signal strength after positive selection. Lu Y, Zhong MC, Qian J, Calderon V, Cruz Tleugabulova M, Mallevaey T, Veillette A. Nat Immunol. 2019 Apr;20(4):447-457.
  3. Synthesis of Patient-Specific Nanomaterials. Lazarovits J, Chen YY, Song F, Ngo W, Tavares AJ, Zhang YN, Audet J, Tang B, Lin Q, Tleugabulova MC, Wilhelm S, Krieger JR, Mallevaey T, Chan WCW. Nano Lett. 2019 Jan 9;19(1):116-123. 
  4. Invariant NKT Cell Activation Is Potentiated by Homotypic trans-Ly108 Interactions. Baglaenko Y, Cruz Tleugabulova M, Gracey E, Talaei N, Manion KP, Chang NH, Ferri DM, Mallevaey T, Wither JE. J Immunol. 2017 May 15;198(10):3949-3962.
  5. The common mouse protozoa Tritrichomonas muris alters mucosal T cell homeostasis and colitis susceptibility. Escalante NK, Lemire P, Cruz Tleugabulova M, Prescott D, Mortha A, Streutker CJ, Girardin SE, Philpott DJ, Mallevaey T. J Exp Med. 2016 Dec 12;213(13):2841-2850.
  6. NKT Cell-Deficient Mice Harbor an Altered Microbiota That Fuels Intestinal Inflammation during Chemically Induced Colitis. Selvanantham T, Lin Q, Guo CX, Surendra A, Fieve S, Escalante NK, Guttman DS, Streutker CJ, Robertson SJ, Philpott DJ, Mallevaey T. J Immunol. 2016 Dec 1;197(11):4464-4472.
  7. Discrete TCR Binding Kinetics Control Invariant NKT Cell Selection and Central Priming. Cruz Tleugabulova M, Escalante NK, Deng S, Fieve S, Ereño-Orbea J, Savage PB, Julien JP, Mallevaey T. J Immunol. 2016 Nov 15;197(10):3959-3969.
  8. Nod1 and Nod2 enhance TLR-mediated invariant NKT cell activation during bacterial infection. Selvanantham T, Escalante NK, Cruz Tleugabulova M, Fiévé S, Girardin SE, Philpott DJ, Mallevaey T. J Immunol. 2013 Dec 1;191(11):5646-54.
  9. Strategy of lipid recognition by invariant natural killer T cells: 'one for all and all for one'. Mallevaey T, Selvanantham T. Immunology. 2012 Jul;136(3):273-82.
  10. A molecular basis for NKT cell recognition of CD1d-self-antigen. Mallevaey T, Clarke AJ, Scott-Browne JP, Young MH, Roisman LC, Pellicci DG, Patel O, Vivian JP, Matsuda JL, McCluskey J, Godfrey DI, Marrack P, Rossjohn J, Gapin L. Immunity. 2011 Mar 25;34(3):315-26.
  11. T cell receptor CDR2 beta and CDR3 beta loops collaborate functionally to shape the iNKT cell repertoire. Mallevaey T, Scott-Browne JP, Matsuda JL, Young MH, Pellicci DG, Patel O, Thakur M, Kjer-Nielsen L, Richardson SK, Cerundolo V, Howell AR, McCluskey J, Godfrey DI, Rossjohn J, Marrack P, Gapin L. Immunity. 2009 Jul 17;31(1):60-71.