prof. Georges Leclercq (PhD)

CRIG group leader
Georges Leclercq

Principal investigator - Laboratory of Experimental Immunology (UGent)
Full professor - Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UGent


Research focus

Our research focuses on human natural killer (NK) cells. NK cells have been shown to have high cytotoxic potential against various cancer cell types, and are currently used in the clinic for treatment of cancer patients. Whereas a lot is known regarding differentiation and function of murine NK cells, current knowledge regarding human NK cells is limited. Our aim is to reveal the role of several transcription factors in the differentiation of human hematopoietic stem cells into mature NK cells, and in the maintenance and function of mature NK cells. The ultimate aim is to attribute to improved NK-based cancer immunotherapy.

Research team

  • prof. Georges Leclercq - principal investigator, full professor
  • Eva Persyn - doctoral fellow

Key publications

  • T-BET drives the conversion of human type 3 innate lymphoid cells into functional NK cells. Frontiers in Immunology. 2022. 13:975778. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.975778
  • TXNIP Promotes Human NK Cell Development but Is Dispensable for NK Cell Functionality. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(19), 11345; doi: 10.3390/ijms231911345
  • The transcription factor RUNX2 drives generation of human NK cells and promotes tissue residency. eLife. 2022; 11:e80320. doi: 10.7554/eLife.80320
  • T-BET and EOMES accelerate and enhance functional differentiation of human natural killer cells. Frontiers in Immunology. 2021. 12:732511. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.732511.
  • The transcription factor ETS1 is an important regulator of human NK cell development and terminal differentiation. Blood. 2020. 136:288-298. doi: 10.1182/blood.2020005204
  • A murine intestinal intraepithelial NKp46-negative innate lymphoid cell population characterized by group 1 properties. Cell Reports 2017. 19: 1431-1443. doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2017.04.068.
  • The role of Ly49E receptor expression on intraepithelial lymphocytes in intestinal cancer development and progression, Cancer Immunol. Immun. 2016. doi:10.1007/s00262-016-1894-6
  • Expression of the inhibitory Ly49E receptor is not critically involved in the immune response against cutaneous, pulmonary or liver tumours, Scientific Reports. 2016. 6: 30564. doi:10.1038/srep30564.
  • Differential Ly49e expression pathways in resting versus T cell receptor-activated intraepithelial γδ T cells, J. Immunol., 2013, 190: 1982–1990. doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1200354
  • Inhibitory receptors specific for MHC class I educate murine NK cells but not CD8αα intestinal intraepithelial T lymphocytes, Blood, 2011, 118: 339-347. doi:10.1182/blood-2011-01-331124

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