Dr David Bending

Dr David Bending

Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy
Associate Professor

Contact details

Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy
432, Institute of Biomedical Research
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr David Bending is a T cell immunologist specialising in tolerance, immune regulation, and immunotherapy.


  • PhD in Immunology, University of Cambridge, 2011
  • BA (Hons) Medical Sciences, University of Cambridge, 2007


Dr David Bending is a T cell immunologist specialising in the regulation of T cell responses and T cell receptor (TCR) signalling. In 2018, he formed his own research group at the University of Birmingham, UK. His lab is supported by  an MRC Career Development award and a Lister Institute Fellowship prize. Their research focuses on how TCR signalling strength and dynamics regulate T cell function.

Dr Bending's lab has keen interests in understanding how immunotherapy can alter T cell activation and identify favourable T cell signatures of therapy responders. They have used cutting-edge TCR signalling research tools to study T cell activation in vivo. A recent major finding is the discovery of the novel “TCR.strong” signalling signature, which is a hallmark of effective T cell responses to anti-PD1 immunotherapy.


Postgraduate supervision

Currently students

  • 1 MSc by Research in Immunology and Immunotherapy student
  • 3 PhD in Immunology and Immunotherapy students


Research interests

T cell receptor signalling, T cell activation, T cell regulation, Nr4a receptors, Immunotherapy, Tumour immunology, negative feedback control of T cells, Tfh cell development.

Current projects

Negative feedback control of T cells in tolerance and cancer - from pathways to biomarkers

T cells are vital immune cells that help fight infections and cancer. T cells must strike a balance between successfully clearing harmful invaders and the collateral damage they might inflict in achieving this (called immunopathology). The T cell system therefore has many brakes which it can apply to control the level of immune response.  We have developed new tools that can follow T cell responses and identify when and how they switch on these immune brakes. We believe that these brakes that have developed to prevent autoimmunity account for why T cells are prevented from killing cancer cells.

Role of Nr4a receptors in T cell activation

Nr4a receptors are rapidly activated following TCR signalling and can be used to follow T cell activation processes in vivo. We use genetic tools to understand the roles Nr4a1 and Nr4a3 play in feedback control of the T cell activation process.

Role of TCR signal dynamics in the regulation of IL-10 expression

IL-10 is an important cytokine that modulates immune responses. Here we use state-of-the-art tools to understand under what conditions IL-10 is activated in T cells, and how TCR signal strength and dynamics control this process.

Role of TCR signal dynamics in the development of T follicular helper cells

T follicular helper (Tfh) cells are a key population of CD4+ T cells that control the generation of high affinity germinal centre B cells, and therefore play key roles in controlling antibody responses. We investigate how antigen density and co-receptor stimulation regulate Tfh cell development and maintenance.

Other activities


Recent publications


Elliot, TAE, Lecky, DAJ & Bending, D 2023, 'T-cell response to checkpoint blockade immunotherapies: from fundamental mechanisms to treatment signatures', Essays in Biochemistry, vol. 2023, EBC20220247. https://doi.org/10.1042/EBC20220247

Whyte, CE, Singh, K, Burton, OT, Aloulou, M, Kouser, L, Veiga, RV, Dashwood, A, Okkenhaug, H, Benadda, S, Moudra, A, Bricard, O, Lienart, S, Bielefeld, P, Roca, CP, Naranjo-Galindo, FJ, Lombard-Vadnais, F, Junius, S, Bending, D, Hochepied, T, Halim, TYF, Schlenner, S, Lesage, S, Dooley, J & Liston, A 2022, 'Context-dependent effects of IL-2 rewire immunity into distinct cellular circuits', The Journal of Experimental Medicine, vol. 219, no. 7, e20212391. https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20212391

Sheriff, L & Bending, D 2022, 'Flow cytometric analysis of CD4+ T cell re-activation following anti-PD1 immunotherapy in a transgenic mouse model', STAR Protocols, vol. 3, no. 1, 101161. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xpro.2022.101161

Drummond, RA, Desai, JV, Ricotta, EE, Swamydas, M, Deming, C, Conlan, S, Quinones, M, Matei-Rascu, V, Sherif, L, Lecky, D, Lee, C-CR, Green, NM, Collins, N, Zelazny, AM, Prevots, DR, Bending, D, Withers, D, Belkaid, Y, Segre, JA & Lionakis, MS 2022, 'Long-term antibiotic exposure promotes mortality after systemic fungal infection by driving lymphocyte dysfunction and systemic escape of commensal bacteria', Cell Host & Microbe, vol. 30, no. 7, pp. 1020-1033.e6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2022.04.013

Elliot, T, Jennings, E, Lecky, D, Rouvray, S, MacKie, G, Scarfe, L, Sheriff, L, Ono, M, Maslowski, K & Bending, D 2022, 'Nur77-Tempo mice reveal T cell steady state antigen recognition', Discovery Immunology, vol. 1, no. 1, kyac009. https://doi.org/10.1093/discim/kyac009

Gudgeon, N, Munford, H, Bishop, EL, Hill, J, Fulton-Ward, T, Bending, D, Roberts, J, Tennant, DA & Dimeloe, S 2022, 'Succinate uptake by T cells suppresses their effector function via inhibition of mitochondrial glucose oxidation', Cell Reports, vol. 40, no. 7, 111193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2022.111193

Elliot, T, Jennings, E, Lecky, D, Thawait, N, Flores-Langarica, A, Copland, A, Maslowski, K, Wraith, D & Bending, D 2021, 'Antigen and checkpoint receptor engagement recalibrates T cell receptor signal strength', Immunity, vol. 54, no. 11, pp. 2481-2496.e6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2021.08.020

Jennings, E, Lecky, D, Ono, M & Bending, D 2021, 'Application of dual Nr4a1-GFP Nr4a3-Tocky reporter mice to study T cell receptor signaling by flow cytometry', STAR Protocols, vol. 2, no. 1, 100284. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xpro.2020.100284

Jennings, E, Elliot, T, Thawait, N, Kanabar, S, Yam-Puc, JC, Ono, M, Toellner, K-M, Wraith, DC, Anderson, G & Bending, D 2020, 'Nr4a1 and Nr4a3 reporter mice are differentially sensitive to T cell receptor signal strength and duration', Cell Reports, vol. 33, no. 5, 108328. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108328, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108328

Bending, D, Prieto Martin, P, Paduraru, A, Ducker, C, Marzaganov, E, Laviron, M, Kitano, S, Miyachi, H, Crompton, T & Ono, M 2018, 'A Timer for analyzing temporally dynamic changes in transcription during differentiation in vivo', Journal of Cell Biology, vol. 217, no. 8, pp. 2931-2950. https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.201711048

Bending, D, Paduraru, A, Ducker, C, Prieto Martin, P, Crompton, T & Ono, M 2018, 'A temporally dynamic Foxp3 autoregulatory transcriptional circuit controls the effector Treg programme', The EMBO journal, vol. 37, no. 16, e99013. https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.201899013

Rosser, E, Lom, H, Bending, D, Duurland, C, Bajaj-Elliott, M & Wedderburn, LR 2018, 'Brief report: Innate lymphoid cells and T-cells contribute to the IL-17A signature detected in the synovial fluid of patients with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis', Arthritis and Rheumatology. https://doi.org/10.1002/art.40731


Sheriff, L, Copland, A & Bending, D 2023, 'T cell biomarkers come to the fore in cancer immunotherapy', Cell Reports Medicine, vol. 4, no. 4, 100989. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrm.2023.100989

Review article

Bending, D & Zikherman, J 2023, 'Nr4a nuclear receptors: markers and modulators of antigen receptor signaling', Current Opinion in Immunology, vol. 81, 102285. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coi.2023.102285

Working paper

Elliot, TAE, Jennings, EK, Lecky, DAJ, Thawait, N, Flores-Langarica, A, Wraith, DC & Bending, D 2021 'Antigen and checkpoint receptor recalibration of T cell receptor signal strength' bioRxiv, pp. 1-48. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.03.02.431957

View all publications in research portal