The Medzhitov lab explores how allergens are recognized and how an allergic response can be mounted by the cells that line the body's airways. Epithelial cells that stand shoulder to shoulder in the lining of the nose, mouth, and lungs form a physical barrier that protects the body from infection. They are also capable of mounting a strong inflammatory reaction to allergens—although how they do so is not fully known. One theory is that the allergens somehow dismantle the protein complexes that hold neighboring epithelial cells together, and that this perturbation generates a distress signal that sends the cells into inflammatory overdrive. I will identify the components of this allergic signaling system, from the "sensors" that first detect the allergen to the proteins that activate the exaggerated inflammatory response. Ultimately, I will determine how disrupting elements of this pathway in mice affects their ability to mount an allergic response, work that will enhance the ability to design immune interventions and to treat allergic inflammation.