Salud Materna, Infantil y Reproductiva

Immunogenomics, one cell at a time

Cuidados médicos a un bebé prematuro en el Hospital de Manhiça, Mozambique
10.00 h
Room 1+2, CEK Building
(Rosselló, 153) Barcelona
Roser Vento-Tormo (Wellcome Sanger Institute)

During early human pregnancy the uterine mucosa transforms into the decidua, into which the fetal placenta implants and where placental trophoblast cells intermingle and communicate with maternal cells. Trophoblast–decidual interactions underlie common diseases of pregnancy, including pre-eclampsia and stillbirth. Here Dr Roser Vento-Tormo and her team profile the transcriptomes of about 70,000 single cells from first-trimester placentas with matched maternal blood and decidual cells. The cellular composition of human decidua reveals subsets of perivascular and stromal cells that are located in distinct decidual layers. There are three major subsets of decidual natural killer cells that have distinctive immunomodulatory and chemokine profiles.

They develop a repository of ligand–receptor complexes and a statistical tool to predict the cell-type specificity of cell–cell communication via these molecular interactions. Their data identify many regulatory interactions that prevent harmful innate or adaptive immune responses in this environment. This single-cell atlas of the maternal–fetal interface reveals the cellular organization of the decidua and placenta, and the interactions that are critical for placentation and reproductive success.

Vento-Tormo will offer an open seminar on this issue entitled "Immunogenomics, one cell at a time", on October 10, in Esther Koplowitz Centre, Barcelona.


Roser Vento-Tormo

Vento-Tormo, PhD (2016) became group leader at Wellcome Sanger Institute (WSI), Cambridge (UK), in 2019. She completed her postdoctoral studies under the supervision of Prof. Sarah Teichmann as an EMBO and HFSP fellow.

She is an immunologist specialising in the study of cellular communication using genomics data. Her PhD work was published in 8 journals, 4 of them with leading contribution (JACI, Genome Biology, FEBS J, Nucleic Acid Research). She has developed, a resource of ligands, receptors and their interactions, integrated with a statistical framework to build cellular communication networks from single-cell transcriptomics data.

Vento-Tormo used this unique computational framework to study maternal-fetal communication during pregnancy in a seminal study published in Nature in 2018. Notably, is currently being applied as a routine in single-cell transcriptomics analysis, as reflected by the daily users of the online version of the software and their citations in studies published in Nature, Science and Cell. Since its inception in March 2019, the Vento-Tormo lab has been developing new versions of by integrating single-cell and spatial genomics datasets. This computational tool is central to the team’s other projects, focused on the adaptation of tissue-resident immune cells in human tissues and organs and their response to pathogens.

Vento-Tormo is a main contributor to the Human Cell Atlas and has been recently awarded by the UK-MRC and European-H2020 to develop a comprehensive atlas of the female reproductive system across its lifespan, and the CZI to map tissue-immune resident cells during ageing.