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1.  Viral antigen induces differentiation of Foxp3+ natural regulatory T cells in influenza virus-infected mice 
We have examined the formation, participation and functional specialization of virus-reactive Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) in a mouse model of influenza virus infection. “Natural” Tregs generated intra-thymically based on interactions with a self-peptide proliferated in response to a homologous viral antigen in the lungs, and to a lesser extent in the lung-draining mediastinal LN (medLN), of virus-infected mice. By contrast, conventional CD4+ T cells with identical TCR specificity underwent little or no conversion to become “adaptive” Tregs. The virus-reactive Tregs in the medLN and the lungs of infected mice upregulated a variety of molecules associated with Treg activation, and also acquired expression of molecules (T-bet, Blimp-1 and IL-10) that confer functional specialization to Tregs. Notably, however, the phenotypes of the T-bet+ Tregs obtained from these sites were distinct, since Tregs isolated from the lungs expressed significantly higher levels of T-bet, Blimp-1 and IL-10 than did Tregs from the medLN. Adoptive transfer of antigen-reactive Tregs led to decreased proliferation of anti-viral CD4+ and CD8+ effector T cells in the lungs of infected hosts, while depletion of Tregs had a reciprocal effect. These studies demonstrate that thymically-generated Tregs can become activated by a pathogen-derived peptide and acquire discrete T-bet+ Treg phenotypes while participating in and modulating an antiviral immune response.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1203302
PMCID: PMC3703618  PMID: 23667113
2.  ADAM17-Mediated Processing of TNF-α Expressed by Antiviral Effector CD8+ T Cells Is Required for Severe T-Cell-Mediated Lung Injury 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79340.
Influenza infection in humans evokes a potent CD8+ T-cell response, which is important for clearance of the virus but may also exacerbate pulmonary pathology. We have previously shown in mice that CD8+ T-cell expression of TNF-α is required for severe and lethal lung injury following recognition of an influenza antigen expressed by alveolar epithelial cells. Since TNF-α is first expressed as a transmembrane protein that is then proteolytically processed to release a soluble form, we sought to characterize the role of TNF-α processing in CD8+ T-cell-mediated injury. In this study we observed that inhibition of ADAM17-mediated processing of TNF-α by CD8+ T cells significantly attenuated the diffuse alveolar damage that occurs after T-cell transfer, resulting in enhanced survival. This was due in part to diminished chemokine expression, as TNF-α processing was required for lung epithelial cell expression of CXCL2 and the subsequent inflammatory infiltration. We confirmed the importance of CXCL2 expression in acute lung injury by transferring influenza-specific CD8+ T cells into transgenic mice lacking CXCR2. These mice exhibited reduced airway infiltration, attenuated lung injury, and enhanced survival. Theses studies describe a critical role for TNF-α processing by CD8+ T cells in the initiation and severity of acute lung injury, which may have important implications for limiting immunopathology during influenza infection and other human infectious or inflammatory diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079340
PMCID: PMC3819268  PMID: 24223177
3.  Pharmacologic Activation of the Innate Immune System to Prevent Respiratory Viral Infections 
Drugs that can rapidly inhibit respiratory infection from influenza or other respiratory pathogens are needed. One approach is to engage primary innate immune defenses against viral infection, such as activating the IFN pathway. In this study, we report that a small, cell-permeable compound called 5,6-di-methylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA) can induce protection against vesicular stomatitis virus in vitro and H1N1 influenza A virus in vitro and in vivo through innate immune activation. Using the mouse C10 bronchial epithelial cell line and primary cultures of nasal epithelial cells, we demonstrate DMXAA activates the IFN regulatory factor-3 pathway leading to production of IFN-β and subsequent high-level induction of IFN-β–dependent proteins, such as myxovirus resistance 1 (Mx1) and 2′,5′-oligoadenylate synthetase 1 (OAS1). Mice treated with DMXAA intranasally elevate mRNA/protein expression of Mx1 and OAS1 in the nasal mucosa, trachea, and lung. When challenged intranasally with a lethal dose of H1N1 influenza A virus, DMXAA reduced viral titers in the lungs and protected 80% of mice from death, even when given at 24 hours before infection. These data show that agents, like DMXAA, that can directly activate innate immune pathways, such as the IFN regulatory factor-3/IFN-β system, in respiratory epithelial cells can be used to protect from influenza pneumonia and potentially in other respiratory viral infections. Development of this approach in humans could be valuable for protecting health care professionals and “first responders” in the early stages of viral pandemics or bioterror attacks.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2010-0288OC
PMCID: PMC3265219  PMID: 21148741
innate immunity; interferon; influenza; pneumonia; bronchial epithelium
4.  Role of alveolar epithelial Early growth response-1 (Egr-1) in CD8+ T Cell mediated Lung Injury 
Molecular immunology  2009;47(2-3):623-631.
Influenza infection of the distal airways results in severe lung injury, a considerable portion of which is immunopathologic and attributable to the host responses. We have used a mouse model to specifically investigate the role of antiviral CD8+ T cells in this injury, and have found that the critical effector molecule is TNF-α expressed by the T cells upon antigen recognition. Interestingly, the immunopathology which ensues is characterized by significant accumulation of host inflammatory cells, recruited by chemokines expressed by the target alveolar epithelial cells. In this study we analyzed the mechanisms involved in the induction of epithelial chemokine expression triggered by antigen-specific CD8+ T cell recognition, and demonstrate that the Early growth response-1 (Egr-1) transcription factor is rapidly induced in epithelial cells, both in vitro and ex vivo, and that this is a critical regulator of a host of inflammatory chemokines. Genetic deficiency of Egr-1 significantly abrogates both the chemokine expression and the immunopathologic injury associated with T cell recognition, and it directly regulates transcriptional activity of a model CXC chemokine, MIP-2. We further demonstrate that Egr-1 induction is triggered by TNF-α– dependent ERK activation, and inhibition of this pathway ablates Egr-1 expression. These findings suggest that Egr-1 may represent an important target in mitigating the immunopathology of severe influenza infection.
doi:10.1016/j.molimm.2009.09.001
PMCID: PMC2787734  PMID: 19786304
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α); Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ); CD8+ T Cells; Influenza; Early growth response-1 (Egr-1); Chemokines; Lung injury

Results 1-4 (4)