Titles and Roles
- Professor and Chair, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
- Emory University School of Medicine
- Research Program
- Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics
Dr. Boss received his PhD in Molecular Biology from the Sate University of New York in Albany, NY. He completed his postdoctoral training in Immunology at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.
Dr. Boss' research uses genetic, biochemical, immunological, and molecular biological technologies to unravel the mechanisms by which immune system genes are regulated. Several systems are studied. The first focuses on the major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) genes, which are responsible for the presentation of foreign antigens to T lymphocytes. Proper tissue specific regulation of MHC-II genes is essential for the control and development of immune-based responses to pathogens and protecting from cancer and autoimmune disorders. Our studies examine the role that modifiers of chromatin structure play in organizing the architecture and expression of MHC-II genes. Recently, we found that interactions between transcriptional insulators and gene promoters form a unique architecture within the nucleus of each cell that is critical to expression of the gene system. Identification of the factors that control this architecture is a current thrust of the work as these are potential targets to manipulate immune responses and improve the efficacy of vaccination protocols. The second involves studies that focus on the molecular regulation of programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) during viral infection and cancer. PD-1 expression controls the ability of T cells to function and remove virus-infected cells or cancer cells. PD-1 is regulated by a complex set of transcription factors that activate or repress the expression. Manipulating these factors leads to prolonged PD-1 expression and failure to clear tumors or fight infection. Third, his lab is also determining the epigenetic mechanisms that control lymphocyte cell fate using mouse models of infection as well as studies examining B cells associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). These studies are expected to lead to novel therapeutic targets to help improve vaccination, cancer therapies, and treat autoimmune diseases.