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1.  Transcriptional fingerprints of antigen-presenting cell subsets in the human vaginal mucosa and skin reflect tissue-specific immune microenvironments 
Genome Medicine  2014;6(11):98.
Dendritic cells localize throughout the body, where they can sense and capture invading pathogens to induce protective immunity. Hence, harnessing the biology of tissue-resident dendritic cells is fundamental for the rational design of vaccines against pathogens.
Herein, we characterized the transcriptomes of four antigen-presenting cell subsets from the human vagina (Langerhans cells, CD14- and CD14+ dendritic cells, macrophages) by microarray, at both the transcript and network level, and compared them to those of three skin dendritic cell subsets and blood myeloid dendritic cells.
We found that genomic fingerprints of antigen-presenting cells are significantly influenced by the tissue of origin as well as by individual subsets. Nonetheless, CD14+ populations from both vagina and skin are geared towards innate immunity and pro-inflammatory responses, whereas CD14- populations, particularly skin and vaginal Langerhans cells, and vaginal CD14- dendritic cells, display both Th2-inducing and regulatory phenotypes. We also identified new phenotypic and functional biomarkers of vaginal antigen-presenting cell subsets.
We provide a transcriptional database of 87 microarray samples spanning eight antigen-presenting cell populations in the human vagina, skin and blood. Altogether, these data provide molecular information that will further help characterize human tissue antigen-presenting cell lineages and their functions. Data from this study can guide the design of mucosal vaccines against sexually transmitted pathogens.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13073-014-0098-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4268898  PMID: 25520755
2.  Transcriptional specialization of human dendritic cell subsets in response to microbial vaccines 
Nature Communications  2014;5:5283.
The mechanisms by which microbial vaccines interact with human APCs remain elusive. Herein, we describe the transcriptional programs induced in human DCs by pathogens, innate receptor ligands and vaccines. Exposure of DCs to influenza, Salmonella enterica and Staphylococcus aureus allows us to build a modular framework containing 204 transcript clusters. We use this framework to characterize the responses of human monocytes, monocyte-derived DCs and blood DC subsets to 13 vaccines. Different vaccines induce distinct transcriptional programs based on pathogen type, adjuvant formulation and APC targeted. Fluzone, Pneumovax and Gardasil, respectively, activate monocyte-derived DCs, monocytes and CD1c+ blood DCs, highlighting APC specialization in response to vaccines. Finally, the blood signatures from individuals vaccinated with Fluzone or infected with influenza reveal a signature of adaptive immunity activation following vaccination and symptomatic infections, but not asymptomatic infections. These data, offered with a web interface, may guide the development of improved vaccines.
The effects of vaccines on human dendritic cells (DCs) are incompletely understood. Here the authors build a transcriptional modular network based on in vitro infection of human DCs and apply it for the characterization of the DC response to 13 different vaccines.
PMCID: PMC4206838  PMID: 25335753
3.  Systems Approaches to Human Autoimmune Diseases 
Current opinion in immunology  2013;25(5):598-605.
PMCID: PMC3924714  PMID: 24055331
4.  Gene Expression Analysis of Children with Acute Hematogenous Osteomyelitis Caused by Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus: Correlation with Clinical Severity of Illness 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e103523.
Children with acute hematogenous osteomyelitis (AHO) demonstrate a broad spectrum of clinical manifestations, ranging from mild to severe. Several advances have been achieved in the study of host immune response to acute invasive Staphylococcus aureus infections through gene expression analysis. However, previous research has neither attempted to evaluate the response of children with AHO specific to Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) nor to correlate gene expression with clinical phenotype. Study objective was to correlate gene expression of children with AHO due to MRSA with clinical severity of illness. Whole blood samples were obtained in Tempus tubes from 12 children with osteomyelitis once cultures obtained directly from the site of infection confirmed to be positive for MRSA. Using an Illumina platform and a systems-wide modular analysis, microarray findings from ten of these children were compared to that of nine healthy (age, ethnicity and gender) matched controls and correlated with clinical severity of illness. Children with AHO from MRSA demonstrated over-expression of innate immunity with respect to neutrophil activity, coagulation, inflammatory response, and erythrocyte development. Concurrently, these children demonstrated under-expression of adaptive immunity with respect to lymphocyte activation and activity of T-cell, cytotoxic or NK cell, and B-cell lines. Three over-expressed genes, P2RX1, SORT1, and RETN, and two under-expressed genes, LOC641788 and STAT 4, were significantly correlated with severity of illness. STAT 4 showed the strongest correlation (R2 = –0.83). STAT4 downregulation could potentially explain under-expression of genes related to adaptive immunity in this cohort of patients with AHO. This study identified specific genes which correspond to disease severity during the early hospitalization of children with AHO from MRSA. Pattern recognition of this combination of genes could help to identify in the future severe clinical phenotypes before the disease is fully manifest and direct appropriate attention and resources to those children.
PMCID: PMC4116206  PMID: 25076205
5.  RNA recognition by human TLR8 can lead to autoimmune inflammation 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(13):2903-2919.
High expression level of human TLR8 in mice results in spontaneous, multiorgan inflammation attributable in part to increased DC activation.
Studies on the role of the RNA receptor TLR8 in inflammation have been limited by its different function in human versus rodents. We have generated multiple lines of transgenic mice expressing different levels of human TLR8. The high copy number chimeras were unable to pass germline; developed severe inflammation targeting the pancreas, salivary glands, and joints; and the severity of the specific phenotypes closely correlated with the huTLR8 expression levels. Mice with relatively low expression levels survived and bred successfully but had increased susceptibility to collagen-induced arthritis, and the levels of huTLR8 correlated with proinflammatory cytokines in the joints of the animals. At the cellular level, huTLR8 signaling exerted a DC-intrinsic effect leading to up-regulation of co-stimulatory molecules and subsequent T cell activation. A pathogenic role for TLR8 in human diseases was suggested by its increased expression in patients with systemic arthritis and the correlation of TLR8 expression with the elevation of IL-1β levels and disease status. We found that the consequence of self-recognition via TLR8 results in a constellation of diseases, strikingly distinct from those related to TLR7 signaling, and points to specific inflammatory diseases that may benefit from inhibition of TLR8 in humans.
PMCID: PMC3865472  PMID: 24277153
6.  Identification of the Key Differential Transcriptional Responses of Human Whole Blood Following TLR2 or TLR4 Ligation In-Vitro 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97702.
The use of human whole blood for transcriptomic analysis has potential advantages over the use of isolated immune cells for studying the transcriptional response to pathogens and their products. Whole blood stimulation can be carried out in a laboratory without the expertise or equipment to isolate immune cells from blood, with the added advantage of being able to undertake experiments using very small volumes of blood. Toll like receptors (TLRs) are a family of pattern recognition receptors which recognise highly conserved microbial products. Using the TLR2 ligand (Pam3CSK4) and the TLR4 ligand (LPS), human whole blood was stimulated for 0, 1, 3, 6, 12 or 24 hours at which times mRNA was isolated and a comparative microarray was undertaken. A common NFκB transcriptional programme was identified following both TLR2 and TLR4 ligation which peaked at between 3 to 6 hours including upregulation of many of the NFκB family members. In contrast an interferon transcriptional response was observed following TLR4 but not TLR2 ligation as early as 1 hour post stimulation and peaking at 6 hours. These results recapitulate the findings observed in previously published studies using isolated murine and human myeloid cells indicating that in vitro stimulated human whole blood can be used to interrogate the early transcriptional kinetic response of innate cells to TLR ligands. Our study demonstrates that a transcriptomic analysis of mRNA isolated from human whole blood can delineate both the temporal response and the key transcriptional differences following TLR2 and TLR4 ligation.
PMCID: PMC4026482  PMID: 24842522
7.  Inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease: Overlaps and differences 
Recent findings demonstrate the common genetic basis for many immune-mediated diseases, and consequently, the partially shared pathogenesis. We collected these findings and reviewed the extension of these overlaps to other disease characteristics. Two autoimmune diseases were selected that also share the specific target organ, the bowel. The etiology and immunopathogenesis of both conditions characterized by chronic intestinal inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and celiac disease (CeD), are not completely understood. Both are complex diseases with genetics and environment contributing to dysregulation of innate and adaptive immune responses, leading to chronic inflammation and disease. CeD constitutes a particular disease because the main environmental and genetic triggers are largely known. IBD comprises two main clinical forms, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which most likely involve a complex interplay between some components of the commensal microbiota and other environmental factors in their origin. These multifactorial diseases encompass a broad spectrum of clinical phenotypes and ages of onset, although the clinical presentation often differs depending on childhood or adult onset, with greater heterogeneity commonly observed in adults.
PMCID: PMC4009516  PMID: 24803796
Disease susceptibility; Gene-environment interaction; Immune system; Inflammation; Microbiota; Inflammatory bowel disease
8.  Human CD1c+ dendritic cells drive the differentiation of CD103+ CD8+ mucosal effector T cells via the cytokine TGF-β 
Immunity  2013;38(4):818-830.
In comparison to murine dendritic cells (DCs), less is known about the function of human DCs in tissues. Here, we analyzed, using lung tissues from humans and humanized mice, the role of human CD1c+ and CD141+ DCs in determining the type of CD8+ T cell immunity generated to live-attenuated influenza virus (LAIV) vaccine. We found that both lung DC subsets acquired influenza antigens in vivo and expanded specific cytotoxic CD8+ T cells in vitro. However, lung-tissue-resident CD1c+ DCs but not CD141+ DCs were able to drive CD103 expression on CD8+ T cells and promoted CD8+ T cell accumulation in lung epithelia in vitro and in vivo. CD1c+ DCs induction of CD103 expression was dependent on membrane-bound cytokine TGF-β1. Thus, CD1c+ and CD141+ DCs generate CD8+ T cells with different properties, and CD1c+ DCs specialize in the regulation of mucosal CD8+ T cells.
PMCID: PMC3639491  PMID: 23562160
9.  Systems Scale Interactive Exploration Reveals Quantitative and Qualitative Differences in Response to Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccines 
Immunity  2013;38(4):831-844.
Systems immunology approaches were employed to investigate innate and adaptive immune responses to influenza and pneumococcal vaccines. These two non-live vaccines show different magnitudes of transcriptional responses at different time points after vaccination. Software solutions were developed to explore correlates of vaccine efficacy measured as antibody titers at day 28. These enabled a further dissection of transcriptional responses. Thus, the innate response, measured within hours in the peripheral blood, was dominated by an interferon transcriptional signature after influenza vaccination and by an inflammation signature after pneumococcal vaccination. Day 7 plasmablast responses induced by both vaccines was more pronounced after pneumococcal vaccination. Together, these results suggest that comparing global immune responses elicited by different vaccines will be critical to our understanding of the immune mechanisms underpinning successful vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3681204  PMID: 23601689
10.  Induction of ICOS+CXCR3+CXCR5+ TH Cells Correlates with Antibody Responses to Influenza Vaccination 
Science translational medicine  2013;5(176):176ra32.
Seasonal influenza vaccine protects 60 to 90% of healthy young adults from influenza infection. The immunological events that lead to the induction of protective antibody responses remain poorly understood in humans. We identified the type of CD4+ T cells associated with protective antibody responses after seasonal influenza vaccinations. The administration of trivalent split-virus influenza vaccines induced a temporary increase of CD4+ T cells expressing ICOS, which peaked at day 7, as did plasmablasts. The induction of ICOS was largely restricted to CD4+ T cells co-expressing the chemokine receptors CXCR3 and CXCR5, a subpopulation of circulating memory T follicular helper cells. Up to 60% of these ICOS+CXCR3+CXCR5+CD4+ T cells were specific for influenza antigens and expressed interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-10, IL-21, and interferon-γ upon antigen stimulation. The increase of ICOS+CXCR3+CXCR5+CD4+ T cells in blood correlated with the increase of preexisting antibody titers, but not with the induction of primary antibody responses. Consistently, purified ICOS+CXCR3+CXCR5+CD4+ T cells efficiently induced memory B cells, but not naïve B cells, to differentiate into plasma cells that produce influenza-specific antibodies ex vivo. Thus, the emergence of blood ICOS+CXCR3+CXCR5+CD4+ T cells correlates with the development of protective antibody responses generated by memory B cells upon seasonal influenza vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3621097  PMID: 23486778
11.  Clinical and Transcriptional Response to the Long-Acting Interleukin-1 Blocker Canakinumab in Blau Syndrome-Related Uveitis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(2):513-518.
To report on the clinical response to canakinumab in a patient with sporadic nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain–containing protein 2 (NOD-2)–associated pediatric granulomatous arthritis (Blau syndrome) and severe resistant panuveitis, and to describe gene expression profile changes throughout such treatment.
A 4-year-old boy was diagnosed as having Blau syndrome on the basis of typical clinical features, histologic evidence of noncaseating granulomas, and a NOD2 mutation. Ocular involvement was initially controlled by topical and oral corticosteroids, but over the years visual impairment and complications, such as macular edema and retinal detachment, progressed. Ocular disease remained persistently active despite treatment with multiple different immunosuppressants; therefore, canakinumab treatment was started. Before and during the first 6 months of treatment, the gene expression profile was determined each month.
Canakinumab treatment was well tolerated and led to rapid quiescence of uveitis, which had been continuously active before this treatment. Gene expression profiling analysis of the patient's blood prior to initiation of interleukin-1 (IL-1) blockade revealed differential expression of 1,993 transcripts when compared to healthy controls, and among the up-regulated transcripts, pathway analysis showed that the predominant network consisted of innate immunity–related transcripts. The transcriptional signature of the patient overlapped with the transcriptional signature of patients with systemic-onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and canakinumab treatment led to the normalization of most of these transcriptional changes.
The pathogenesis of Blau syndrome may be mediated by IL-1, and canakinumab may be useful when this disorder is unresponsive to more conventional treatments.
PMCID: PMC3684148  PMID: 23124805
12.  Neutrophils come of age in chronic inflammation 
Current opinion in immunology  2012;24(6):671-677.
Neutrophils have long been known to participate in acute inflammation, but a role in chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases is now emerging. These cells are key players in the recognition and elimination of pathogens, but they also sense self components, including nucleic acids and products of sterile tissue damage. While this normally contributes to tissue repair, it can also lead to the release of highly immunogenic products that can trigger and/or amplify autoimmune pathogenic loops. Understanding the mechanisms that underlie neutrophil activation, migration, survival and their various forms of death in health and disease might provide us with new approaches to treat chronic inflammatory conditions.
PMCID: PMC3684162  PMID: 23127555
13.  From IL-2 to IL-37: the expanding spectrum of anti-inflammatory cytokines 
Nature immunology  2012;13(10):925-931.
Feedback regulatory circuits provided by regulatory T cells (Treg cells) and suppressive cytokines are an intrinsic part of the immune system, along with effector functions. Here we discuss some of the regulatory cytokines that have evolved to permit tolerance to components of self as well as the eradication of pathogens with minimal collateral damage to the host. Interleukin 2 (IL-2), IL-10 and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) are well characterized, whereas IL-27, IL-35 and IL-37 represent newcomers to the spectrum of anti-inflammatory cytokines. We also emphasize how information accumulated through in vitro as well as in vivo studies of genetically engineered mice can help in the understanding and treatment of human diseases.
PMCID: PMC3609707  PMID: 22990890
14.  Interferon Signature in the Blood in Inflammatory Common Variable Immune Deficiency 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74893.
About half of all subjects with common variable immune deficiency (CVID) are afflicted with inflammatory complications including hematologic autoimmunity, granulomatous infiltrations, interstitial lung disease, lymphoid hyperplasia and/or gastrointestinal inflammatory disease. The pathogenesis of these conditions is poorly understood but singly and in aggregate, these lead to significantly increased (11 fold) morbidity and mortality, not experienced by CVID subjects without these complications. To explore the dysregulated networks in these subjects, we applied whole blood transcriptional profiling to 91 CVID subjects, 47 with inflammatory conditions and 44 without, in comparison to subjects with XLA and healthy controls. As compared to other CVID subjects, males with XLA or healthy controls, the signature of CVID subjects with inflammatory complications was distinguished by a marked up-regulation of IFN responsive genes. Chronic up-regulation of IFN pathways is known to occur in autoimmune disease due to activation of TLRs and other still unclarified cytoplasmic sensors. As subjects with inflammatory complications were also more likely to be lymphopenic, have reduced B cell numbers, and a greater reduction of B, T and plasma cell networks, we suggest that more impaired adaptive immunity in these subjects may lead to chronic activation of innate IFN pathways in response to environmental antigens. The unbiased use of whole blood transcriptome analysis may provides a tool for distinguishing CVID subjects who are at risk for increased morbidity and earlier mortality. As more effective therapeutic options are developed, whole blood transcriptome analyses could also provide an efficient means of monitoring the effects of treatment of the inflammatory phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3775732  PMID: 24069364
16.  Transcriptional Blood Signatures Distinguish Pulmonary Tuberculosis, Pulmonary Sarcoidosis, Pneumonias and Lung Cancers 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70630.
New approaches to define factors underlying the immunopathogenesis of pulmonary diseases including sarcoidosis and tuberculosis are needed to develop new treatments and biomarkers. Comparing the blood transcriptional response of tuberculosis to other similar pulmonary diseases will advance knowledge of disease pathways and help distinguish diseases with similar clinical presentations.
To determine the factors underlying the immunopathogenesis of the granulomatous diseases, sarcoidosis and tuberculosis, by comparing the blood transcriptional responses in these and other pulmonary diseases.
We compared whole blood genome-wide transcriptional profiles in pulmonary sarcoidosis, pulmonary tuberculosis, to community acquired pneumonia and primary lung cancer and healthy controls, before and after treatment, and in purified leucocyte populations.
Measurements and Main Results
An Interferon-inducible neutrophil-driven blood transcriptional signature was present in both sarcoidosis and tuberculosis, with a higher abundance and expression in tuberculosis. Heterogeneity of the sarcoidosis signature correlated significantly with disease activity. Transcriptional profiles in pneumonia and lung cancer revealed an over-abundance of inflammatory transcripts. After successful treatment the transcriptional activity in tuberculosis and pneumonia patients was significantly reduced. However the glucocorticoid-responsive sarcoidosis patients showed a significant increase in transcriptional activity. 144-blood transcripts were able to distinguish tuberculosis from other lung diseases and controls.
Tuberculosis and sarcoidosis revealed similar blood transcriptional profiles, dominated by interferon-inducible transcripts, while pneumonia and lung cancer showed distinct signatures, dominated by inflammatory genes. There were also significant differences between tuberculosis and sarcoidosis in the degree of their transcriptional activity, the heterogeneity of their profiles and their transcriptional response to treatment.
PMCID: PMC3734176  PMID: 23940611
17.  Tracking Interferon in Autoimmunity 
Immunity  2012;36(1):7-9.
Type I interferon is a family of antiviral cytokines linked to human autoimmune diseases. In this issue of Immunity, Gall et al. (2012) characterize, in a murine model of autoimmunity, the origin and progression of the type I interferon response leading to disease.
PMCID: PMC3694564  PMID: 22284415
18.  Immunodeficiency, auto-inflammation and amylopectinosis in humans with inherited HOIL-1 and LUBAC deficiency 
Nature immunology  2012;13(12):1178-1186.
We report the clinical description and molecular dissection of a new fatal human inherited disorder characterized by chronic auto-inflammation, invasive bacterial infections and muscular amylopectinosis. Patients from two kindreds carried biallelic loss-of-expression and loss-of-function mutations in HOIL1, a component the linear ubiquitination chain assembly complex (LUBAC). These mutations resulted in impairment of LUBAC stability. NF-κB activation in response to interleukin-1β (IL-1β) was compromised in the patients’ fibroblasts. By contrast, the patients’ mononuclear leukocytes, particularly monocytes, were hyperresponsive to IL-1β. The consequences of human HOIL-1 and LUBAC deficiencies for IL-1β responses thus differed between cell types, consistent with the unique association of auto-inflammation and immunodeficiency in these patients. These data suggest that LUBAC regulates NF-κB-dependent IL-1β responses differently in different cell types.
PMCID: PMC3514453  PMID: 23104095
19.  Macrophages induce differentiation of plasma cells through CXCL10/IP-10 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2012;209(10):1813-1823.
Macrophage production of CXCL10 amplifies the production of IL-6 by B cells, leading to plasma cell differentiation.
In tonsils, CD138+ plasma cells (PCs) are surrounded by CD163+ resident macrophages (Mϕs). We show here that human Mϕs (isolated from tonsils or generated from monocytes in vitro) drive activated B cells to differentiate into CD138+CD38++ PCs through secreted CXCL10/IP-10 and VCAM-1 contact. IP-10 production by Mϕs is induced by B cell–derived IL-6 and depends on STAT3 phosphorylation. Furthermore, IP-10 amplifies the production of IL-6 by B cells, which sustains the STAT3 signals that lead to PC differentiation. IP-10–deficient mice challenged with NP-Ficoll show a decreased frequency of NP-specific PCs and lower titers of antibodies. Thus, our results reveal a novel dialog between Mϕs and B cells, in which IP-10 acts as a PC differentiation factor.
PMCID: PMC3457728  PMID: 22987802
20.  Serum from patients with SLE instructs monocytes to promote IgG and IgA plasmablast differentiation 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2012;209(7):1335-1348.
Monocytes exposed to serum from SLE patients promote B cell differentiation to IgG and IgA plasmablasts dependent on BAFF and IL-10 or APRIL, respectively.
The development of autoantibodies is a hallmark of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). SLE serum can induce monocyte differentiation into dendritic cells (DCs) in a type I IFN–dependent manner. Such SLE-DCs activate T cells, but whether they promote B cell responses is not known. In this study, we demonstrate that SLE-DCs can efficiently stimulate naive and memory B cells to differentiate into IgG- and IgA-plasmablasts (PBs) resembling those found in the blood of SLE patients. SLE-DC–mediated IgG-PB differentiation is dependent on B cell–activating factor (BAFF) and IL-10, whereas IgA-PB differentiation is dependent on a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL). Importantly, SLE-DCs express CD138 and trans-present CD138-bound APRIL to B cells, leading to the induction of IgA switching and PB differentiation in an IFN-α–independent manner. We further found that this mechanism of providing B cell help is relevant in vivo, as CD138-bound APRIL is expressed on blood monocytes from active SLE patients. Collectively, our study suggests that a direct myeloid DC–B cell interplay might contribute to the pathogenesis of SLE.
PMCID: PMC3405503  PMID: 22689824
21.  An Interferon-Inducible Neutrophil-Driven Blood Transcriptional Signature in Human Tuberculosis 
Nature  2010;466(7309):973-977.
Tuberculosis (TB), caused by infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis), is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and efforts to control TB are hampered by difficulties with diagnosis, prevention and treatment 1,2. Most people infected with M. tuberculosis remain asymptomatic, termed latent TB, with a 10% lifetime risk of developing active TB disease, but current tests cannot identify which individuals will develop disease 3. The immune response to M. tuberculosis is complex and incompletely characterized, hindering development of new diagnostics, therapies and vaccines 4,5. We identified a whole blood 393 transcript signature for active TB in intermediate and high burden settings, correlating with radiological extent of disease and reverting to that of healthy controls following treatment. A subset of latent TB patients had signatures similar to those in active TB patients. We also identified a specific 86-transcript signature that discriminated active TB from other inflammatory and infectious diseases. Modular and pathway analysis revealed that the TB signature was dominated by a neutrophil-driven interferon (IFN)-inducible gene profile, consisting of both IFN-γ and Type I IFNαβ signalling. Comparison with transcriptional signatures in purified cells and flow cytometric analysis, suggest that this TB signature reflects both changes in cellular composition and altered gene expression. Although an IFN signature was also observed in whole blood of patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), their complete modular signature differed from TB with increased abundance of plasma cell transcripts. Our studies demonstrate a hitherto under-appreciated role of Type I IFNαβ signalling in TB pathogenesis, which has implications for vaccine and therapeutic development. Our study also provides a broad range of transcriptional biomarkers with potential as diagnostic and prognostic tools to combat the TB epidemic.
PMCID: PMC3492754  PMID: 20725040
22.  Detectable Changes in The Blood Transcriptome Are Present after Two Weeks of Antituberculosis Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46191.
Globally there are approximately 9 million new active tuberculosis cases and 1.4 million deaths annually. Effective antituberculosis treatment monitoring is difficult as there are no existing biomarkers of poor adherence or inadequate treatment earlier than 2 months after treatment initiation. Inadequate treatment leads to worsening disease, disease transmission and drug resistance.
To determine if blood transcriptional signatures change in response to antituberculosis treatment and could act as early biomarkers of a successful response.
Blood transcriptional profiles of untreated active tuberculosis patients in South Africa were analysed before, during (2 weeks and 2 months), at the end of (6 months) and after (12 months) antituberculosis treatment, and compared to individuals with latent tuberculosis. An active-tuberculosis transcriptional signature and a specific treatment-response transcriptional signature were derived. The specific treatment response transcriptional signature was tested in two independent cohorts. Two quantitative scoring algorithms were applied to measure the changes in the transcriptional response. The most significantly represented pathways were determined using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis.
An active tuberculosis 664-transcript signature and a treatment specific 320-transcript signature significantly diminished after 2 weeks of treatment in all cohorts, and continued to diminish until 6 months. The transcriptional response to treatment could be individually measured in each patient.
Significant changes in the transcriptional signatures measured by blood tests were readily detectable just 2 weeks after treatment initiation. These findings suggest that blood transcriptional signatures could be used as early surrogate biomarkers of successful treatment response.
PMCID: PMC3462772  PMID: 23056259
23.  Host Immune Transcriptional Profiles Reflect the Variability in Clinical Disease Manifestations in Patients with Staphylococcus aureus Infections 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34390.
Staphylococcus aureus infections are associated with diverse clinical manifestations leading to significant morbidity and mortality. To define the role of the host response in the clinical manifestations of the disease, we characterized whole blood transcriptional profiles of children hospitalized with community-acquired S. aureus infection and phenotyped the bacterial strains isolated. The overall transcriptional response to S. aureus infection was characterized by over-expression of innate immunity and hematopoiesis related genes and under-expression of genes related to adaptive immunity. We assessed individual profiles using modular fingerprints combined with the molecular distance to health (MDTH), a numerical score of transcriptional perturbation as compared to healthy controls. We observed significant heterogeneity in the host signatures and MDTH, as they were influenced by the type of clinical presentation, the extent of bacterial dissemination, and time of blood sampling in the course of the infection, but not by the bacterial isolate. System analysis approaches provide a new understanding of disease pathogenesis and the relation/interaction between host response and clinical disease manifestations.
PMCID: PMC3319567  PMID: 22496797
24.  Netting Neutrophils Are Major Inducers of Type I IFN Production in Pediatric Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Science translational medicine  2011;3(73):73ra20.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by a breakdown of tolerance to nuclear antigens and the development of immune complexes. Genomic approaches have shown that human SLE leukocytes homogeneously express type I interferon (IFN)–induced and neutrophil-related transcripts. Increased production and/or bioavailability of IFN-α and associated alterations in dendritic cell (DC) homeostasis have been linked to lupus pathogenesis. Although neutrophils have long been shown to be associated with lupus, their potential role in disease pathogenesis remains elusive. Here, we show that mature SLE neutrophils are primed in vivo by type I IFN and die upon exposure to SLE-derived anti-ribonucleoprotein antibodies, releasing neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). SLE NETs contain DNA as well as large amounts of LL37 and HMGB1, neutrophil proteins that facilitate the uptake and recognition of mammalian DNA by plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs). Indeed, SLE NETs activate pDCs to produce high levels of IFN-α in a DNA- and TLR9 (Toll-like receptor 9)–dependent manner. Our results reveal an unsuspected role for neutrophils in SLE pathogenesis and identify a novel link between nucleic acid–recognizing antibodies and type I IFN production in this disease.
PMCID: PMC3143837  PMID: 21389264
25.  Interferon alpha induces unabated production of short-lived plasma cells in pre-autoimmune lupus-prone (NZB×NZW)F1 mice but not in BALB/c mice 
European journal of immunology  2011;41(3):863-872.
IFNα is known to play a critical role in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but the mechanisms remain unclear. We previously showed that within weeks, exposure to IFNα in vivo induces lupus in pre-autoimmune lupus-prone NZB × NZW F1 (NZB/W) but not in BALB/c mice. In the current study, we show that in vivo expression of IFNα induces sustained B cell proliferation in both BALB/c and NZB/W mice. In NZB/W but not BALB/c mice, B cell proliferation was accompanied by a rapid and unabated production of autoantibody-secreting cells (ASCs) in secondary lymphoid organs, suggesting that a B cell checkpoint is altered in the autoimmune background. The majority (>95%) of ASCs elicited in IFNα-treated NZB/W mice were short-lived and occurred without the induction of long-lived plasma cells. A short course of cyclophosphamide caused a sharp drop in IFNα-elicited short-lived plasma cells, but the levels recovered within days following termination of treatment. Thus, our work provides new insights into effectiveness and limitations of current SLE therapies.
PMCID: PMC3073415  PMID: 21312191
lupus; interferon alpha; B lymphocytes; short-lived plasma cells; cyclophosphamide

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