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1.  Allergen Recognition by Innate Immune Cells: Critical Role of Dendritic and Epithelial Cells 
Allergy is an exacerbated response of the immune system against non-self-proteins called allergens and is typically characterized by biased type-2 T helper cell and deleterious IgE mediated immune responses. The allergic cascade starts with the recognition of allergens by antigen presenting cells, mainly dendritic cells (DCs), leading to Th2 polarization, switching to IgE production by B cells, culminating in mast cell sensitization and triggering. DCs have been demonstrated to play a crucial role in orchestrating allergic diseases. Using different C-type lectin receptors DCs are able to recognize and internalize a number of allergens from diverse sources leading to sensitization. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence highlighting the role of epithelial cells in triggering and modulating immune responses to allergens. As well as providing a physical barrier, epithelial cells can interact with allergens and influence DCs behavior through the release of a number of Th2 promoting cytokines. In this review we will summarize current understanding of how allergens are recognized by DCs and epithelial cells and what are the consequences of such interaction in the context of allergic sensitization and downstream events leading to allergic inflammation. Better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of allergen recognition and associated signaling pathways could enable developing more effective therapeutic strategies that target the initial steps of allergic sensitization hence hindering development or progression of allergic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3816228  PMID: 24204367
dendritic cell; epithelial cell; asthma; allergy; type-I hypersensitivity; house dust mite; pattern recognition receptor; TSLP
2.  Biomimetic tissues on a chip for drug discovery 
Drug Discovery Today  2011;17(3-4):173-181.
Recent advances in tissue engineering have enabled the development of microscale biomimetic ‘organ on a chip’ tissue models which have the potential to make an important impact on the various stages of drug discovery and toxicity testing.
Developing biologically relevant models of human tissues and organs is an important enabling step for disease modeling and drug discovery. Recent advances in tissue engineering, biomaterials and microfluidics have led to the development of microscale functional units of such models also referred to as ‘organs on a chip’. In this review, we provide an overview of key enabling technologies and highlight the wealth of recent work regarding on-chip tissue models. In addition, we discuss the current challenges and future directions of organ-on-chip development.
PMCID: PMC3273552  PMID: 22094245
Organs on chip; tissue engineering; microfluidics; biomaterials; in vitro models; tissue models
3.  Tissue transglutaminase treatment leads to concentration-dependent changes in dendritic cell phenotype - implications for the role of transglutaminase in coeliac disease 
BMC Immunology  2012;13:20.
Dendritic cells (DCs) are part of the innate immune system with a key role in initiating and modulating T cell mediated immune responses. Coeliac disease is caused by inappropriate activation of such a response leading to small intestinal inflammation when gluten is ingested. Tissue transglutaminase, an extracellular matrix (ECM) protein, has an established role in coeliac disease; however, little work to date has examined its impact on DCs. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of small intestinal ECM proteins, fibronectin (FN) and tissue transglutaminase 2 (TG-2), on human DCs by including these proteins in DC cultures.
The study used flow cytometry and scanning electron microscopy to determine the effect of FN and TG-2 on phenotype, endocytic ability and and morphology of DCs. Furthermore, DCs treated with FN and TG-2 were cultured with T cells and subsequent T cell proliferation and cytokine profile was determined.
The data indicate that transglutaminase affected DCs in a concentration-dependent manner. High concentrations were associated with a more mature phenotype and increased ability to stimulate T cells, while lower concentrations led to maintenance of an immature phenotype.
These data provide support for an additional role for transglutaminase in coeliac disease and demonstrate the potential of in vitro modelling of coeliac disease pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3352302  PMID: 22507564
Coeliac disease; Dendritic cells; Immune response; Gliadin; Tissue engineering; Transglutaminase
4.  The Glycosylation Pattern of Common Allergens: The Recognition and Uptake of Der p 1 by Epithelial and Dendritic Cells Is Carbohydrate Dependent 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33929.
Allergens are initiators of both innate and adaptive immune responses. They are recognised at the site of entry by epithelial and dendritic cells (DCs), both of which activate innate inflammatory circuits that can collectively induce Th2 immune responses. In an attempt to have a better understanding of the role of carbohydrates in the recognition and uptake of allergens by the innate immune system, we defined common glycosylation patterns in major allergens. This was done using labelled lectins and showed that allergens like Der p 1 (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus group 1), Fel d 1 (Felis domisticus), Ara h 1 (Arachis hypogaea), Der p 2 (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus group 2), Bla g 2 (Blattella germanica) and Can f 1 (Canis familiaris) are glycosylated and that the main dominant sugars on these allergens are 1–2, 1–3 and 1–6 mannose. These observations are in line with recent reports implicating the mannose receptor (MR) in allergen recognition and uptake by DCs and suggesting a major link between glycosylation and allergen recognition. We then looked at TSLP (Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin) cytokine secretion by lung epithelia upon encountering natural Der p 1 allergen. TSLP is suggested to drive DC maturation in support of allergic hypersensitivity reactions. Our data showed an increase in TSLP secretion by lung epithelia upon stimulation with natural Der p 1 which was carbohydrate dependent. The deglycosylated preparation of Der p 1 exhibited minimal uptake by DCs compared to the natural and hyperglycosylated recombinant counterparts, with the latter being taken up more readily than the other preparations. Collectively, our data indicate that carbohydrate moieties on allergens play a vital role in their recognition by innate immune cells, implicating them in downstream deleterious Th2 cell activation and IgE production.
PMCID: PMC3316510  PMID: 22479478
5.  Retagging Identifies Dendritic Cell-specific Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-3 (ICAM3)-grabbing Non-integrin (DC-SIGN) Protein as a Novel Receptor for a Major Allergen from House Dust Mite* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2011;287(8):5756-5763.
Background: Allergen uptake by DCs is central to allergic sensitization.
Results: DC-SIGN recognizes major allergens from house dust mite and dog. However, silencing DC-SIGN leads to Th2 differentiation.
Conclusion: DC-SIGN is a newly identified receptor for Der p 1 and Can f 1 that appears to support Th1 cell differentiation.
Significance: Understanding of how allergic responses are selected and propagated is essential for developing novel therapies.
Dendritic cells (DCs) have been shown to play a key role in the initiation and maintenance of immune responses to microbial pathogens as well as to allergens, but the exact mechanisms of their involvement in allergic responses and Th2 cell differentiation have remained elusive. Using retagging, we identified DC-SIGN as a novel receptor involved in the initial recognition and uptake of the major house dust mite and dog allergens Der p 1 and Can f 1, respectively. To confirm this, we used gene silencing to specifically inhibit DC-SIGN expression by DCs followed by allergen uptake studies. Binding and uptake of Der p 1 and Can f 1 allergens was assessed by ELISA and flow cytometry. Intriguingly, our data showed that silencing DC-SIGN on DCs promotes a Th2 phenotype in DC/T cell co-cultures. These findings should lead to better understanding of the molecular basis of allergen-induced Th2 cell polarization and in doing so paves the way for the rational design of novel intervention strategies by targeting allergen receptors on innate immune cells or their carbohydrate counterstructures on allergens.
PMCID: PMC3285347  PMID: 22205703
Allergen; Allergy; Dendritic Cells; Glycosylation; Immunology; C-type Lectins; DC-SIGN; Mannose Receptor
6.  Laminin and Fibronectin Treatment Leads to Generation of Dendritic Cells with Superior Endocytic Capacity 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10123.
Sampling the microenvironment at sites of microbial exposure by dendritic cells (DC) and their subsequent interaction with T cells in the paracortical area of lymph nodes are key events for initiating immune responses. Most of our knowledge of such events in human is based on in vitro studies performed in the absence of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. ECM in basement membranes and interstitial spaces of different tissues, including lymphoid organs, plays an important role in controlling specific cellular functions such as migration, intracellular signalling and differentiation. The aim of this study was, therefore, to investigate the impact of two abundant ECM components, fibronectin and laminin, on the phenotypical and functional properties of DC and how that might influence DC induced T-cell differentiation.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Human monocyte derived DC were treated with laminin and fibronectin for up to 48 hours and their morphology and phenotype was analyzed using scanning electron microscopy, flow cytometry and real time PCR. The endocytic ability of DC was determined using flow cytometry. Furthermore, co-culture of DC and T cells were established and T cell proliferation and cytokine profile was measured using H3-thymidine incorporation and ELISA respectively. Finally, we assessed formation of DC-T cell conjugates using different cell trackers and flow cytometry. Our data show that in the presence of ECM, DC maintain a ‘more immature’ phenotype and express higher levels of key endocytic receptors, and as a result become significantly better endocytic cells, but still fully able to mature in response to stimulation as evidenced by their superior ability to induce antigen-specific T cell differentiation.
These studies underline the importance of including ECM components in in vitro studies investigating DC biology and DC-T cell interaction. Within the context of antigen specific DC induced T cell proliferation, inclusion of ECM proteins could lead to development of more sensitive assays.
PMCID: PMC2856673  PMID: 20419094
7.  An investigation into IgE-facilitated allergen recognition and presentation by human dendritic cells 
BMC Immunology  2013;14:54.
Allergen recognition by dendritic cells (DCs) is a key event in the allergic cascade leading to production of IgE antibodies. C-type lectins, such as the mannose receptor and DC-SIGN, were recently shown to play an important role in the uptake of the house dust mite glycoallergen Der p 1 by DCs. In addition to mannose receptor (MR) and DC-SIGN the high and low affinity IgE receptors, namely FcϵRI and FcϵRII (CD23), respectively, have been shown to be involved in allergen uptake and presentation by DCs.
This study aims at understanding the extent to which IgE- and IgG-facilitated Der p 1 uptake by DCs influence T cell polarisation and in particular potential bias in favour of Th2. We have addressed this issue by using two chimaeric monoclonal antibodies produced in our laboratory and directed against a previously defined epitope on Der p 1, namely human IgE 2C7 and IgG1 2C7.
Flow cytometry was used to establish the expression patterns of IgE (FcϵRI and FcϵRII) and IgG (FcγRI) receptors in relation to MR on DCs. The impact of FcϵRI, FcϵRII, FcγRI and mannose receptor mediated allergen uptake on Th1/Th2 cell differentiation was investigated using DC/T cell co-culture experiments. Myeloid DCs showed high levels of FcϵRI and FcγRI expression, but low levels of CD23 and MR, and this has therefore enabled us to assess the role of IgE and IgG-facilitated allergen presentation in T cell polarisation with minimal interference by CD23 and MR. Our data demonstrate that DCs that have taken up Der p 1 via surface IgE support a Th2 response. However, no such effect was demonstrable via surface IgG.
IgE bound to its high affinity receptor plays an important role in Der p 1 uptake and processing by peripheral blood DCs and in Th2 polarisation of T cells.
PMCID: PMC3883479  PMID: 24330349
Allergen; Dendritic cells; Der p 1; IgG; IgE
8.  Analysis of proteomic profiles and functional properties of human peripheral blood myeloid dendritic cells, monocyte-derived dendritic cells and the dendritic cell-like KG-1 cells reveals distinct characteristics 
Genome Biology  2007;8(3):R30.
Important proteomic and functional differences between peripheral blood myeloid dendritic cells, monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDC) and KG-1 cells have been identified.
Dendritic cells (DCs) are specialized antigen presenting cells that play a pivotal role in bridging innate and adaptive immune responses. Given the scarcity of peripheral blood myeloid dendritic cells (mDCs) investigators have used different model systems for studying DC biology. Monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDCs) and KG-1 cells are routinely used as mDC models, but a thorough comparison of these cells has not yet been carried out, particularly in relation to their proteomes. We therefore sought to run a comparative study of the proteomes and functional properties of these cells.
Despite general similarities between mDCs and the model systems, moDCs and KG-1 cells, our findings identified some significant differences in the proteomes of these cells, and the findings were confirmed by ELISA detection of a selection of proteins. This was particularly noticeable with proteins involved in cell growth and maintenance (for example, fibrinogen γ chain (FGG) and ubiquinol cytochrome c) and cell-cell interaction and integrity (for example, fascin and actin). We then examined the surface phenotype, cytokine profile, endocytic and T-cell-activation ability of these cells in support of the proteomic data, and obtained confirmatory evidence for differences in the maturation status and functional attributes between mDCs and the two DC models.
We have identified important proteomic and functional differences between mDCs and two DC model systems. These differences could have major functional implications, particularly in relation to DC-T cell interactions, the so-called immunological synapse, and, therefore, need to be considered when interpreting data obtained from model DC systems.
PMCID: PMC1868942  PMID: 17331236

Results 1-8 (8)