Our Lab

Target antigens of autoreactive T- and B-cells in autoimmune diseases

Welcome to the lab of Klaus Dornmair, PhD


AG Dornmair Gruppenfoto

Group photo of our lab


Our Aim

We are investigating the target antigens of putatively autoreactive T cells and antibodies in several autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), paraneoplastic neurological diseases, psoriasis, autoimmune myositis, and other diseases with putative autoimmune pathogenesis. In all these diseases it is known that T cells invade and destroy the target tissues, but in none of the diseases the molecular nature of the target antigens is known. Likewise, profound B cell responses have been observed that lead to the production of (auto)antibodies, but again, the targets of these antibodies is still elusive.


Our Approach

The analysis of disease-relevant T cells and antibodies is hampered by the fact that myriads of different T cells and antibodies are present in the inflamed tissue. However, only a small fraction of them is presumably pathogenic while many others were attracted non-specifically. Over the past years, we have established a toolbox of new technologies to distinguish relevant from non-relevant cells and antibodies in frozen biopsy samples from patients. We then isolate and characterize the antigen-specific T cell receptors and antibodies and express them in vitro. This "immuno-archeology" allows us to identify and to "resurrect" disease-related T cells and antibodies. We then use them for investigating their antigens. Hence, we transfer the highly complex in vivo antigen presentation process to a simple in vitro system.


Our Support

Our current work is supported by multiple national and international funding agencies including the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) through grant VIP0376 (VIP stands for “Validation of the Innovation Potential of Scientific Research”), the (DFG) German National Science Foundation through the Collaborative Research Centres CRC TR 128 (“Initiating/effector versus regulatory mechanisms in multiple sclerosis”), the Wilhelm Sander-Stiftung, the ARSEP FOUNDATION (Fondation pour l’Aide à la Recherche sur la Sclérose en Plaques), the China Scholarship Council - Ludwig Maximilians Universität München (CSC-LMU), the European Neurological Society and the European Molecular Biology Organization. In addition we are part of several local and national research consortia including the Excellence Cluster SyNergy – Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology.




Prof. Dr.

Martin Kerschensteiner


Group Leader

PD. Dr.

Klaus Dornmair