The Mak Lab is a molecular immunology laboratory supervised by Dr. Andrew Makrigiannis of the Microbiology and Immunology Department of Dalhousie University. It is located on the 7th floor of the Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building at 5850 College Street (accross from the IWK). The Mak Lab was previously at the University of Ottawa for 6 1/2 years and at the Institut de recherches clinique de Montreal (IRCM) for 7 years where Dr. Makrigiannis supervised many students. Now the Mak Lab has been at Dalhousie University since 2016.
The major area important to the lab is innate immunity, the first line of defence against viral infections and cancer. Of particular interest are natural killer (NK) and other innate immune cells. The lab is molecular biology-driven and specializes in the production of knock-out mice.
The Mak Lab is interested in examining the contribution of different cell surface receptors in the control of NK cell and pDC function during challenge of the immune system. The receptors studied are encoded by the Ly49 and Nkrp1 multi-gene families.The Ly49 bind to products of the class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) resulting in inhibition of NK cell activation. Through gene-mapping studies, we have shown that Ly49 genes are highly polymorphic, so that different numbers and types of Ly49 genes with unique class I MHC-binding characteristics are expressed in different inbred mouse strains. This situation in the mouse is highly similar to the genes encoding analogous NK cell receptors in humans (KIRs). In contrast, the Nkrp1 family of proteins recognize the closely-linked Clr family of surface proteins. Through the production of gene-knock-out mice, we have shown that Ly49/Nkrp1 are intimately involved in the innate immune response to viral infection and cancer.