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1.  SLIT2/ROBO2 signaling pathway inhibits nonmuscle myosin IIA activity and destabilizes kidney podocyte adhesion 
JCI Insight  null;1(19):e86934.
The repulsive guidance cue SLIT2 and its receptor ROBO2 are required for kidney development and podocyte foot process structure, but the SLIT2/ROBO2 signaling mechanism regulating podocyte function is not known. Here we report that a potentially novel signaling pathway consisting of SLIT/ROBO Rho GTPase activating protein 1 (SRGAP1) and nonmuscle myosin IIA (NMIIA) regulates podocyte adhesion downstream of ROBO2. We found that the myosin II regulatory light chain (MRLC), a subunit of NMIIA, interacts directly with SRGAP1 and forms a complex with ROBO2/SRGAP1/NMIIA in the presence of SLIT2. Immunostaining demonstrated that SRGAP1 is a podocyte protein and is colocalized with ROBO2 on the basal surface of podocytes. In addition, SLIT2 stimulation inhibits NMIIA activity, decreases focal adhesion formation, and reduces podocyte attachment to collagen. In vivo studies further showed that podocyte-specific knockout of Robo2 protects mice from hypertension-induced podocyte detachment and albuminuria and also partially rescues the podocyte-loss phenotype in Myh9 knockout mice. Thus, we have identified SLIT2/ROBO2/SRGAP1/NMIIA as a potentially novel signaling pathway in kidney podocytes, which may play a role in regulating podocyte adhesion and attachment. Our findings also suggest that SLIT2/ROBO2 signaling might be a therapeutic target for kidney diseases associated with podocyte detachment and loss.
SLIT2 promotes the formation of a ROBO2/non-muscle myosin IIA/SRGAP1 complex that decreases podocyte adhesion and attachment.
PMCID: PMC5111509  PMID: 27882344
2.  EGF receptor specificity for phosphotyrosine-primed substrates provides signal integration with Src 
Aberrant activation of the EGF receptor (EGFR) contributes to many human cancers by activating the Ras-MAPK and other pathways. EGFR signaling is augmented by Src-family kinases, but the mechanism is poorly understood. Here, we show that human EGFR preferentially phosphorylates peptide substrates that are primed by a prior phosphorylation. Utilizing peptides based on the sequence of the adaptor protein Shc1, we show that Src mediates the priming phosphorylation, promoting subsequent phosphorylation by EGFR. Importantly, the doubly phosphorylated Shc1 peptide binds more tightly to the Ras activator Grb2, a key step in activating the Ras-MAPK pathway, than singly phosphorylated peptides. Finally, a crystal structure of EGFR in complex with a primed Shc1 peptide reveals the structural basis for EGFR substrate specificity. These results provide a molecular explanation for the integration of Src and EGFR signaling with downstream effectors such as Ras.
PMCID: PMC4824005  PMID: 26551075
3.  A GM-CSF/IL-33 Pathway Facilitates Allergic Airway Responses to Sub-Threshold House Dust Mite Exposure 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88714.
Allergic asthma is a chronic immune-inflammatory disease of the airways. Despite aeroallergen exposure being universal, allergic asthma affects only a fraction of individuals. This is likely related, at least in part, to the extent of allergen exposure. Regarding house dust mite (HDM), we previously identified the threshold required to elicit allergic responses in BALB/c mice. Here, we investigated the impact of an initial immune perturbation on the response to sub-threshold HDM exposure. We show that transient GM-CSF expression in the lung facilitated robust eosinophilic inflammation, long-lasting antigen-specific Th2 responses, mucus production and airway hyperresponsiveness. This was associated with increased IL-33 levels and activated CD11b+ DCs expressing OX40L. GM-CSF-driven allergic responses were significantly blunted in IL-33-deficient mice. IL-33 was localized on alveolar type II cells and in vitro stimulation of human epithelial cells with GM-CSF enhanced intracellular IL-33 independently of IL-1α. Likewise, GM-CSF administration in vivo resulted in increased levels of IL-33 but not IL-1α. These findings suggest that exposures to environmental agents associated with GM-CSF production, including airway infections and pollutants, may decrease the threshold of allergen responsiveness and, hence, increase the susceptibility to develop allergic asthma through a GM-CSF/IL-33/OX40L pathway.
PMCID: PMC3925157  PMID: 24551140
4.  Mycophenolic Acid Differentially Impacts B Cell Function Depending on the Stage of Differentiation 
Production of pathogenic Abs contributes to disease progression in many autoimmune disorders. The immunosuppressant agent mycophenolic acid (MPA) has shown clinical efficacy for patients with autoimmunity. The goal of these studies was to elucidate the mechanisms of action of MPA on B cells isolated from healthy individuals and autoimmune patients. In this study, we show that MPA significantly inhibited both proliferation and differentiation of primary human B cells stimulated under various conditions. Importantly, MPA did not globally suppress B cell responsiveness or simply induce cell death, but rather selectively inhibited early activation events and arrested cells in the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle. Furthermore, MPA blocked expansion of both naive and memory B cells and prevented plasma cell (PC) differentiation and Ab production from healthy controls and individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Finally, whereas MPA potently suppressed Ig secretion from activated primary B cells, terminally differentiated PCs were not susceptible to inhibition by MPA. The target of MPA, IMPDH2, was found to be downregulated in PCs, likely explaining the resistance of these cells to MPA. These results suggest that MPA provides benefit in settings of autoimmunity by directly preventing activation and PC differentiation of B cells; however, MPA is unlikely to impact autoantibody production by preexisting, long-lived PCs.
PMCID: PMC4180087  PMID: 21873529
5.  Genomic-Based High Throughput Screening Identifies Small Molecules That Differentially Inhibit the Antiviral and Immunomodulatory Effects of IFN-α 
Molecular Medicine  2008;14(7-8):374-382.
Multiple lines of evidence suggest that inhibition of Type I Interferons, including IFN-α, may provide a therapeutic benefit for autoimmune diseases. Using a chemical genomics approach integrated with cellular and in vivo assays, we screened a small compound library to identify modulators of IFN-α biological effects. A genomic fingerprint was developed from both ex vivo patient genomic information and in vitro gene modulation from IFN-α cell-based stimulation. A high throughput genomic-based screen then was applied to prioritize 268 small molecule inhibitors targeting 41 different intracellular signaling pathways. Active compounds were profiled further for their ability to inhibit the activation and differentiation of human monocytes using disease-related stimuli. Inhibitors targeting NF-κB or Janus Kinase/Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (JAK/STAT) signaling emerged as “dissociated inhibitors” because they did not modulate IFN-α anti-viral effects against HSV-1 but potently inhibited other immune-related functions. This work describes a novel strategy to identify small molecule inhibitors for the treatment of autoimmune disorders.
PMCID: PMC2376640  PMID: 18475307
7.  RAGE is a nucleic acid receptor that promotes inflammatory responses to DNA 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(11):2447-2463.
Receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE) detects nucleic acids and promotes DNA uptake into endosomes, which in turn lowers the immune recognition threshold for TLR9 activation.
Recognition of DNA and RNA molecules derived from pathogens or self-antigen is one way the mammalian immune system senses infection and tissue damage. Activation of immune signaling receptors by nucleic acids is controlled by limiting the access of DNA and RNA to intracellular receptors, but the mechanisms by which endosome-resident receptors encounter nucleic acids from the extracellular space are largely undefined. In this study, we show that the receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE) promoted DNA uptake into endosomes and lowered the immune recognition threshold for the activation of Toll-like receptor 9, the principal DNA-recognizing transmembrane signaling receptor. Structural analysis of RAGE–DNA complexes indicated that DNA interacted with dimers of the outermost RAGE extracellular domains, and could induce formation of higher-order receptor complexes. Furthermore, mice deficient in RAGE were unable to mount a typical inflammatory response to DNA in the lung, indicating that RAGE is important for the detection of nucleic acids in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3804942  PMID: 24081950
8.  Brown Fat Determination and Development from Muscle Precursor Cells by Novel Action of Bone Morphogenetic Protein 6 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92608.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) plays a pivotal role in promoting energy expenditure by the virtue of uncoupling protein-1 (UCP-1) that differentiates BAT from its energy storing white adipose tissue (WAT) counterpart. The clinical implication of “classical” BAT (originates from Myf5 positive myoblastic lineage) or the “beige” fat (originates through trans-differentiation of WAT) activation in improving metabolic parameters is now becoming apparent. However, the inducers and endogenous molecular determinants that govern the lineage commitment and differentiation of classical BAT remain obscure. We report here that in the absence of any forced gene expression, stimulation with bone morphogenetic protein 6 (BMP6) induces brown fat differentiation from skeletal muscle precursor cells of murine and human origins. Through a comprehensive transcriptional profiling approach, we have discovered that two days of BMP6 stimulation in C2C12 myoblast cells is sufficient to induce genes characteristic of brown preadipocytes. This developmental switch is modulated in part by newly identified regulators, Optineurin (Optn) and Cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox2). Furthermore, pathway analyses using the Causal Reasoning Engine (CRE) identified additional potential causal drivers of this BMP6 induced commitment switch. Subsequent analyses to decipher key pathway that facilitates terminal differentiation of these BMP6 primed cells identified a key role for Insulin Like Growth Factor-1 Receptor (IGF-1R). Collectively these data highlight a therapeutically innovative role for BMP6 by providing a means to enhance the amount of myogenic lineage derived brown fat.
PMCID: PMC3962431  PMID: 24658703
9.  Noncanonical Autophagy Is Required for Type I Interferon Secretion in Response to DNA-Immune Complexes 
Immunity  2012;37(6):986-997.
Toll-like receptor-9 (TLR9) is largely responsible for discriminating self from pathogenic DNA. However, association of host DNA with autoantibodies activates TLR9, inducing the pathogenic secretion of type I interferons (IFNs) from plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). Here, we found that in response to DNA-containing immune complexes (DNA-IC), but not to soluble ligands, IFN-α production depended upon the convergence of the phagocytic and autophagic pathways, a process called microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B-light chain 3 (LC3)-associated phagocytosis (LAP). LAP was required for TLR9 trafficking into a specialized interferon signaling compartment by a mechanism that involved autophagy-related proteins, but not the conventional autophagic preinitiation complex, or adaptor protein-3 (AP-3). Our findings unveil a new role for nonconventional autophagy in inflammation and provide one mechanism by which anti-DNA autoantibodies, such as those found in several autoimmune disorders, bypass the controls that normally restrict the apportionment of pathogenic DNA and TLR9 to the interferon signaling compartment.
PMCID: PMC3786711  PMID: 23219390
10.  Costimulation through B7-2 (CD86) Is Required for the Induction of a Lung Mucosal T Helper Cell 2 (TH2) Immune Response and Altered Airway Responsiveness 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1997;185(9):1671-1680.
The recruitment of eosinophils into the airways after allergen exposure is dependent on interleukin (IL) 5 secreted from antigen-specific CD4+ T cells of the T helper cell (Th) 2 subset. However, while it is established that costimulation through CD28 is required for TCR-mediated activation and IL-2 production, the importance of this mechanism for the induction of a Th2 immune response is less clear. In the present study, we administered the fusion protein CTLA-4 immunoglobulin (Ig) into the lungs before allergen provocation to determine whether CD28/CTLA-4 ligands are required for allergen-induced eosinophil accumulation and the production of Th2 cytokines. Administration of CTLA-4 Ig inhibited the recruitment of eosinophils into the lungs by 75% and suppressed IgE in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. CTLA-4 Ig also inhibited the production of IL-4, IL-5, and IL-10 by 70–80% and enhanced interferon-γ production from CD3–T cell receptor–activated lung Thy1.2+ cells. Allergen exposure upregulated expression of B7-2, but not B7-1, on B cells from the lung within 24 h. Moreover, airway administration of an anti-B7-2 monoclonal antibody (mAb) inhibited eosinophil infiltration, IgE production, and Th2 cytokine secretion comparable in magnitude to that observed with CTLA-4 Ig. Treatment with an anti-B7-1 mAb had a small, but significant effect on eosinophil accumulation, although was less effective in inhibiting Th2 cytokine production. The anti-B7-2, but not anti-B7-1, mAb also inhibited antigen-induced airway hyperresponsiveness in vivo. In all of the parameters assessed, the combination of both the anti-B7-1 and anti-B7-2 mAb was no more effective than anti-B7-2 mAb treatment alone. We propose that strategies aimed at inhibition of CD28 interactions with B7-2 molecules may represent a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of lung mucosal allergic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2196297  PMID: 9151904
11.  Psoriasiform dermatitis is driven by IL-36–mediated DC-keratinocyte crosstalk 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(11):3965-3976.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the skin affecting approximately 2% of the world’s population. Accumulating evidence has revealed that the IL-23/IL-17/IL-22 pathway is key for development of skin immunopathology. However, the role of keratinocytes and their crosstalk with immune cells at the onset of disease remains poorly understood. Here, we show that IL-36R–deficient (Il36r–/–) mice were protected from imiquimod-induced expansion of dermal IL-17–producing γδ T cells and psoriasiform dermatitis. Furthermore, IL-36R antagonist-deficient (Il36rn–/–) mice showed exacerbated pathology. TLR7 ligation on DCs induced IL-36–mediated crosstalk with keratinocytes and dermal mesenchymal cells that was crucial for control of the pathological IL-23/IL-17/IL-22 axis and disease development. Notably, mice lacking IL-23, IL-17, or IL-22 were less well protected from disease compared with Il36r–/– mice, indicating an additional distinct activity of IL-36 beyond induction of the pathological IL-23 axis. Moreover, while the absence of IL-1R1 prevented neutrophil infiltration, it did not protect from acanthosis and hyperkeratosis, demonstrating that neutrophils are dispensable for disease manifestation. These results highlight a central and unique IL-1–independent role for IL-36 in control of the IL-23/IL-17/IL-22 pathway and development of psoriasiform dermatitis.
PMCID: PMC3484446  PMID: 23064362
12.  IL-9 Governs Allergen-induced Mast Cell Numbers in the Lung and Chronic Remodeling of the Airways 
IL-9 is a pleiotropic cytokine that has multiple effects on structural as well as numerous hematopoietic cells, which are central to the pathogenesis of asthma.
The contribution of IL-9 to asthma pathogenesis has thus far been unclear, due to conflicting reports in the literature. These earlier studies focused on the role of IL-9 in acute inflammatory models; here we have investigated the effects of IL-9 blockade during chronic allergic inflammation.
Mice were exposed to either prolonged ovalbumin or house dust mite allergen challenge to induce chronic inflammation and airway remodeling.
Measurements and Main Results
We found that IL-9 governs allergen-induced mast cell (MC) numbers in the lung and has pronounced effects on chronic allergic inflammation. Anti–IL-9 antibody–treated mice were protected from airway remodeling with a concomitant reduction in mature MC numbers and activation, in addition to decreased expression of the profibrotic mediators transforming growth factor-β1, vascular endothelial growth factor, and fibroblast growth factor-2 in the lung. Airway remodeling was associated with impaired lung function in the peripheral airways and this was reversed by IL-9 neutralization. In human asthmatic lung tissue, we identified MCs as the main IL-9 receptor expressing population and found them to be sources of vascular endothelial growth factor and fibroblast growth factor-2.
Our data suggest an important role for an IL-9-MC axis in the pathology associated with chronic asthma and demonstrate that an impact on this axis could lead to a reduction in chronic inflammation and improved lung function in patients with asthma.
PMCID: PMC3385369  PMID: 20971830
IL-9; mast cells; asthma; airway remodeling; AHR
13.  Opposing Roles of Membrane and Soluble Forms of the Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products in Primary Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;205(8):1311-1320.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common respiratory pathogen in infants and the older population, causes pulmonary inflammation and airway occlusion that leads to impairment of lung function. Here, we have established a role for receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) in RSV infection. RAGE-deficient (ager−/−) mice were protected from RSV-induced weight loss and inflammation. This protection correlated with an early increase in type I interferons, later decreases in proinflammatory cytokines, and a reduction in viral load. To assess the contribution of soluble RAGE (sRAGE) to RSV-induced disease, wild-type and ager−/− mice were given doses of sRAGE following RSV infection. Of interest, sRAGE treatment prevented RSV-induced weight loss and neutrophilic inflammation to a degree similar to that observed in ager−/− mice. Our work further elucidates the roles of RAGE in the pathogenesis of respiratory infections and highlights the opposing roles of membrane and sRAGE in modulating the host response to RSV infection.
PMCID: PMC3308901  PMID: 22262795
14.  RSV-Induced Bronchial Epithelial Cell PD-L1 Expression Inhibits CD8+ T Cell Nonspecific Antiviral Activity 
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of bronchiolitis in infants. It is also responsible for high morbidity and mortality in the elderly. Programmed death ligands (PD-Ls) on antigen-presenting cells interact with receptors on T cells to regulate immune responses. The programmed death receptor-ligand 1/programmed death receptor 1 (PD-L1-PD-1) pathway is inhibitory in chronic viral infections, but its role in acute viral infections is unclear. We hypothesized that bronchial epithelial cell (BEC) expression of PD-Ls would inhibit local effector CD8+ T cell function. We report that RSV infection of primary human BECs strongly induces PD-L1 expression. In a co-culture system of BECs with purified CD8+ T cells, we demonstrated that RSV-infected BECs increased CD8+ T cell activation, proliferation, and antiviral function. Blocking PD-L1 on RSV-infected BECs co-cultured with CD8+ T cells enhanced CD8+ T cell IFN-γ, IL-2, and granzyme B production. It also decreased the virus load of the BECs. Based on our findings, we believe therapeutic strategies that target the PD-L1-PD-1 pathway might increase antiviral immune responses to RSV and other acute virus infections.
PMCID: PMC3086441  PMID: 21148500
15.  IL-1α/IL-1R1 Expression in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Mechanistic Relevance to Smoke-Induced Neutrophilia in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28457.
Cigarette smoking is the main risk factor for the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Despite this, the cellular and molecular mechanisms that contribute to COPD pathogenesis are still poorly understood.
Methodology and Principal Findings
The objective of this study was to assess IL-1 α and β expression in COPD patients and to investigate their respective roles in perpetuating cigarette smoke-induced inflammation. Functional studies were pursued in smoke-exposed mice using gene-deficient animals, as well as blocking antibodies for IL-1α and β. Here, we demonstrate an underappreciated role for IL-1α expression in COPD. While a strong correlation existed between IL-1α and β levels in patients during stable disease and periods of exacerbation, neutrophilic inflammation was shown to be IL-1α-dependent, and IL-1β- and caspase-1-independent in a murine model of cigarette smoke exposure. As IL-1α was predominantly expressed by hematopoietic cells in COPD patients and in mice exposed to cigarette smoke, studies pursued in bone marrow chimeric mice demonstrated that the crosstalk between IL-1α+ hematopoietic cells and the IL-1R1+ epithelial cells regulates smoke-induced inflammation. IL-1α/IL-1R1-dependent activation of the airway epithelium also led to exacerbated inflammatory responses in H1N1 influenza virus infected smoke-exposed mice, a previously reported model of COPD exacerbation.
Conclusions and Significance
This study provides compelling evidence that IL-1α is central to the initiation of smoke-induced neutrophilic inflammation and suggests that IL-1α/IL-1R1 targeted therapies may be relevant for limiting inflammation and exacerbations in COPD.
PMCID: PMC3232226  PMID: 22163019
16.  Differential expression and function of breast regression protein 39 (BRP-39) in murine models of subacute cigarette smoke exposure and allergic airway inflammation 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):39.
While the presence of the chitinase-like molecule YKL40 has been reported in COPD and asthma, its relevance to inflammatory processes elicited by cigarette smoke and common environmental allergens, such as house dust mite (HDM), is not well understood. The objective of the current study was to assess expression and function of BRP-39, the murine equivalent of YKL40 in a murine model of cigarette smoke-induced inflammation and contrast expression and function to a model of HDM-induced allergic airway inflammation.
CD1, C57BL/6, and BALB/c mice were room air- or cigarette smoke-exposed for 4 days in a whole-body exposure system. In separate experiments, BALB/c mice were challenged with HDM extract once a day for 10 days. BRP-39 was assessed by ELISA and immunohistochemistry. IL-13, IL-1R1, IL-18, and BRP-39 knock out (KO) mice were utilized to assess the mechanism and relevance of BRP-39 in cigarette smoke- and HDM-induced airway inflammation.
Cigarette smoke exposure elicited a robust induction of BRP-39 but not the catalytically active chitinase, AMCase, in lung epithelial cells and alveolar macrophages of all mouse strains tested. Both BRP-39 and AMCase were increased in lung tissue after HDM exposure. Examining smoke-exposed IL-1R1, IL-18, and IL-13 deficient mice, BRP-39 induction was found to be IL-1 and not IL-18 or IL-13 dependent, while induction of BRP-39 by HDM was independent of IL-1 and IL-13. Despite the importance of BRP-39 in cellular inflammation in HDM-induced airway inflammation, BRP-39 was found to be redundant for cigarette smoke-induced airway inflammation and the adjuvant properties of cigarette smoke.
These data highlight the contrast between the importance of BRP-39 in HDM- and cigarette smoke-induced inflammation. While functionally important in HDM-induced inflammation, BRP-39 is a biomarker of cigarette smoke induced inflammation which is the byproduct of an IL-1 inflammatory pathway.
PMCID: PMC3079621  PMID: 21473774
17.  RAGE-Independent Autoreactive B Cell Activation In Response To Chromatin And HMGB1/DNA Immune Complexes 
Autoimmunity  2010;43(1):103-110.
Increasing evidence suggests that the excessive accumulation of apoptotic or necrotic cellular debris may contribute to the pathology of systemic autoimmune disease. HMGB1 is a nuclear DNA-associated protein, which can be released from dying cells thereby triggering inflammatory processes. We have previously shown that IgG2a-reactive BCR transgenic AM14 B cells proliferate in response to endogenous chromatin immune complexes (ICs), in the form of the anti-nucleosome antibody PL2-3 and cell debris, in a TLR9-dependent manner, and that these ICs contain HMGB1. Activation of AM14 B cells by these chromatin ICs was inhibited by a soluble form of the HMGB1 receptor, RAGE-Fc, suggesting HMGB1/RAGE interaction was important for this response [1]. To further explore the role of HMGB1 in autoreactive B cell activation, we assessed the capacity of purified calf thymus HMGB1 to bind dsDNA fragments and found that HMGB1 bound both CG-rich and CG-poor DNA. However, HMGB1/DNA complexes could not activate AM14 B cells unless HMGB1 was bound by IgG2a and thereby able to engage the BCR. To ascertain the role of RAGE in autoreactive B cell responses to chromatin ICs, we intercrossed AM14 and RAGE-deficient mice. We found that spontaneous and defined DNA ICs activated RAGE+ and RAGE− AM14 B cells to a comparable extent. These results suggest that HMGB1 promotes B cell responses to endogenous TLR9 ligands through a RAGE-independent mechanism.
PMCID: PMC2929824  PMID: 20014975
HMGB1; RAGE; AM14 B cells; TLR9; Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; autoreactive B cell activation
18.  Cell-type specific recognition of human Metapneumoviruses by RIG-I and TLR7 and viral interference of RIG-I ligand recognition by HMPVB1 Phosphoprotein 
Human Metapneumoviruses (HMPV) are recently identified Paramyxoviridae that contribute to respiratory tract infections in children. No effective treatments or vaccines are available. Successful defense against virus infection relies on early detection by germline encoded pattern recognition receptors and activation of cytokine and type I interferon genes. Recently, the RNA helicase Retinoic acid inducible gene (RIG-I) has been shown to sense HMPV. In this study, we investigated the ability of two prototype strains of HMPV (A1 [NL\1\00] and B1 [NL\1\99]) to activate RIG-I and induce type I interferons (IFN). Despite the ability of both HMPV-A1 and B1 to infect and replicate in cell lines and primary cells, only the HMPV-A1 strain triggered RIG-I to induce IFNA/B gene transcription. The failure of the HMPV-B1 strain to elicit type I IFN production was dependent on the B1 phosphoprotein, which specifically prevented RIG-I-mediated sensing of HMPV viral 5’ triphosphate RNA. In contrast to most cell types, plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDC) displayed a unique ability to sense both the A1 and B1 strains and in this case sensing was via Toll-like receptor (TLR)-7 rather than RIG-I. Collectively, these data reveal differential mechanisms of sensing for two closely related viruses, which operate in cell-type specific manners.
PMCID: PMC2834787  PMID: 20042593
Viral; Signal Transduction; Knockout mouse
19.  IL-9 as a mediator of Th17-driven inflammatory disease 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2009;206(8):1653-1660.
We report that like other T cells cultured in the presence of transforming growth factor (TGF) β, Th17 cells also produce interleukin (IL) 9. Th17 cells generated in vitro with IL-6 and TGF-β as well as purified ex vivo Th17 cells both produced IL-9. To determine if IL-9 has functional consequences in Th17-mediated inflammatory disease, we evaluated the role of IL-9 in the development and progression of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. The data show that IL-9 neutralization and IL-9 receptor deficiency attenuates disease, and this correlates with decreases in Th17 cells and IL-6–producing macrophages in the central nervous system, as well as mast cell numbers in the regional lymph nodes. Collectively, these data implicate IL-9 as a Th17-derived cytokine that can contribute to inflammatory disease.
PMCID: PMC2722185  PMID: 19596803
20.  Development of Potential Pharmacodynamic and Diagnostic Markers for Anti-IFN-α Monoclonal Antibody Trials in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
To identify potential pharmacodynamic biomarkers to guide dose selection in clinical trials using anti-interferon-alpha (IFN-α) monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), we used an Affymetrix human genome array platform and identified 110 IFN-α/β-inducible transcripts significantly upregulated in whole blood (WB) of 41 SLE patients. The overexpression of these genes was confirmed prospectively in 54 additional SLE patients and allowed for the categorization of the SLE patients into groups of high, moderate, and weak overexpressers of IFN-α/β-inducible genes. This approach could potentially allow for an accurate assessment of drug target neutralization in early trials of anti-IFN-α mAb therapy for SLE. Furthermore, ex vivo stimulation of healthy donor peripheral blood mononuclear cells with SLE patient serum and subsequent neutralization with anti-IFN-α mAb or anti-IFN-α receptor mAb showed that anti-IFN-α mAb has comparable effects of neutralizing the overexpression of type I IFN-inducible genes as that of anti-IFNAR mAb. These results suggest that IFN-α, and not other members of type I IFN family in SLE patients, is mainly responsible for the induction of type I IFN-inducible genes in WB of SLE patients. Taken together, these data strengthen the view of IFN-α as a therapeutic target for SLE.
PMCID: PMC2950308  PMID: 20948567
21.  Gene-environment interactions in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the leading causes of death throughout the world and is largely associated with cigarette smoking. Despite the appreciation of the central role of smoking in the development of COPD, only a relatively small number of smokers (15%–20%) develop COPD. Recent studies depicting familial aggregation suggest that some subjects may have a genetic predisposition to developing COPD. In this respect, a number of single nucleotide polymorphisms have been reported in association with different COPD features (subphenotypes), although much of this data remains controversial. Classical genetic studies (including twin and family studies) assume an “equal-environment” scenario, but as gene-environment interactions occur in COPD, this assumption needs revision. Thus, new integrated models are needed to examine the major environmental factors associated with COPD which include smoking as well as air pollution, and respiratory infections, and not only genetic predisposition. Revisiting this area, may help answer the question of what has more bearing in the pathogenesis of COPD—the environment or the genomic sequence of the affected subjects. It is anticipated that an improved understanding of this interaction will both enable improved identification of individuals susceptible to developing this disease, as well as improved future treatments for this disease.
PMCID: PMC2629985  PMID: 18990979
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; environment; genomics; pathogenesis
22.  In Vivo-to-In Silico Iterations to Investigate Aeroallergen-Host Interactions 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(6):e2426.
Allergic asthma is a complex process arising out of the interaction between the immune system and aeroallergens. Yet, the relationship between aeroallergen exposure, allergic sensitization and disease remains unclear. This knowledge is essential to gain further insight into the origin and evolution of allergic diseases. The objective of this research is to develop a computational view of the interaction between aeroallergens and the host by investigating the impact of dose and length of aeroallergen exposure on allergic sensitization and allergic disease outcomes, mainly airway inflammation and to a lesser extent lung dysfunction and airway remodeling.
Methods and Principal Findings
BALB/C mice were exposed intranasally to a range of concentrations of the most pervasive aeroallergen worldwide, house dust mite (HDM), for up to a quarter of their lifespan (20 weeks). Actual biological data delineating the kinetics, nature and extent of responses for local (airway inflammation) and systemic (HDM-specific immunoglobulins) events were obtained. Mathematical equations for each outcome were developed, evaluated, refined through several iterations involving in vivo experimentation, and validated. The models accurately predicted the original biological data and simulated an extensive array of previously unknown responses, eliciting two- and three-dimensional models. Our data demonstrate the non-linearity of the relationship between aeroallergen exposure and either allergic sensitization or airway inflammation, identify thresholds, behaviours and maximal responsiveness for each outcome, and examine inter-variable relationships.
This research provides a novel way to visualize allergic responses in vivo and establishes a basic experimental platform upon which additional variables and perturbations can be incorporated into the system.
PMCID: PMC2409221  PMID: 18545674
23.  Role of the caspase-1 inflammasome in Salmonella typhimurium pathogenesis 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2006;203(6):1407-1412.
Caspase-1 is activated by a variety of stimuli after the assembly of the “inflammasome,” an activating platform made up of a complex of the NOD-LRR family of proteins. Caspase-1 is required for the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18, and is involved in the control of many bacterial infections. Paradoxically, however, its absence has been reported to confer resistance to oral infection by Salmonella typhimurium. We show here that absence of caspase-1 or components of the inflammasome does not result in resistance to oral infection by S. typhimurium, but rather, leads to increased susceptibility to infection.
PMCID: PMC2118315  PMID: 16717117
24.  Role of CCR5 in IFN-γ–induced and cigarette smoke–induced emphysema 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2005;115(12):3460-3472.
Th1 inflammation and remodeling characterized by tissue destruction frequently coexist in human diseases. To further understand the mechanisms of these responses, we defined the role(s) of CCR5 in the pathogenesis of IFN-γ–induced inflammation and remodeling in a murine emphysema model. IFN-γ was a potent stimulator of the CCR5 ligands macrophage inflammatory protein–1α/CCL-3 (MIP-1α/CCL-3), MIP-1β/CCL-4, and RANTES/CCL-5, among others. Antibody neutralization or null mutation of CCR5 decreased IFN-γ–induced inflammation, DNA injury, apoptosis, and alveolar remodeling. These interventions decreased the expression of select chemokines, including CCR5 ligands and MMP-9, and increased levels of secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor. They also decreased the expression and/or activation of Fas, FasL, TNF, caspase-3, -8, and -9, Bid, and Bax. In accordance with these findings, cigarette smoke induced pulmonary inflammation, DNA injury, apoptosis, and emphysema via an IFN-γ–dependent pathway(s), and a null mutation of CCR5 decreased these responses. These studies demonstrate that IFN-γ is a potent stimulator of CC and CXC chemokines and highlight the importance of CCR5 in the pathogenesis of IFN-γ–induced and cigarette smoke–induced inflammation, tissue remodeling, and emphysema. They also demonstrate that CCR5 is required for optimal IFN-γ stimulation of its own ligands, other chemokines, MMPs, caspases, and cell death regulators and the inhibition of antiproteases.
PMCID: PMC1280966  PMID: 16284650
25.  IL-4 increases type 2, but not type 1, cytokine production in CD8+ T cells from mild atopic asthmatics 
Respiratory Research  2005;6(1):67.
Virus infections are the major cause of asthma exacerbations. CD8+ T cells have an important role in antiviral immune responses and animal studies suggest a role for CD8+ T cells in the pathogenesis of virus-induced asthma exacerbations. We have previously shown that the presence of IL-4 during stimulation increases the frequency of IL-5-positive cells and CD30 surface staining in CD8+ T cells from healthy, normal subjects. In this study, we investigated whether excess IL-4 during repeated TCR/CD3 stimulation of CD8+ T cells from atopic asthmatic subjects alters the balance of type 1/type 2 cytokine production in favour of the latter.
Peripheral blood CD8+ T cells from mild atopic asthmatic subjects were stimulated in vitro with anti-CD3 and IL-2 ± excess IL-4 and the expression of activation and adhesion molecules and type 1 and type 2 cytokine production were assessed.
Surface expression of very late antigen-4 [VLA-4] and LFA-1 was decreased and the production of the type 2 cytokines IL-5 and IL-13 was augmented by the presence of IL-4 during stimulation of CD8+ T cells from mild atopic asthmatics.
These data suggest that during a respiratory virus infection activated CD8+ T cells from asthmatic subjects may produce excess type 2 cytokines and may contribute to asthma exacerbation by augmenting allergic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC1198257  PMID: 16001979

Results 1-25 (36)