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1.  Stable Expression and Characterization of an Optimized Mannose Receptor 
The mannose receptor (MR) is a macrophage surface receptor that recognizes pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) from a diverse array of bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens. Functional studies of the MR are hampered by the scarcity of human cell lines that express the receptor. Current model systems available for the study of MR biology often demonstrate low levels of expression and do not retain many of the classical MR properties. Although several laboratories have reported transient and stable expression of MR from plasmids, preliminary data from our laboratory suggests that these plasmids produce a protein that lacks critical domains and is often not stable over time. In this current report we describe the generation and characterization of a novel human codon-optimized system for transient and stable MR expression. Rare codons and sequences that contribute to mRNA instability were modified to produce mRNA that is qualitatively and quantitatively improved. Confocal imaging of the transient and stably expressed optimized receptor demonstrates a distribution consistent with previous reports. To demonstrate the functional characteristics of the optimized receptor, we further show that the introduction of codon-optimized MR plasmid can confer MR-associated phagocytosis of S. aureus to non-phagocytic HeLa cells. We show that three molecules participate in the engagement and internalization of S. aureus. MR was found to colocalize with Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) and Rab5 following exposure to pHrodo-stained S. aureus, suggesting cooperation among the three molecules to engage and internalize the bacterial particle. This study describes a transfection capable, optimized MR receptor with functional characteristics similar to the wild type receptor and further demonstrates a new system for the continued study of MR biology and function.
PMCID: PMC4645283  PMID: 26581716
Macrophages; Mannose receptor
2.  The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt: An Innovative Research-Based Program for High School Students 
CBE Life Sciences Education  2014;13(2):297-310.
The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt is a unique 1-d-per-week “pull-out” program that provides a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics pipeline program for highly motivated and talented public high school students.
The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt (SSMV) is an innovative partnership program between a Research I private university and a large urban public school system. The SSMV was started in 2007 and currently has 101 students enrolled in the program, with a total of 60 students who have completed the 4-yr sequential program. Students attend the SSMV for one full day per week during the school year and 3–6 wk in the summers following their ninth- to 11th-grade years, with each grade of 26 students coming to the Vanderbilt campus on a separate day. The research-based curriculum focuses on guiding students through the process of learning to develop questions and hypotheses, designing projects and performing analyses, and communicating results of these projects. The SSMV program has elevated the learning outcomes of students as evidenced by increased achievement scores relative to a comparison group of students; has provided a rigorous research-based science, technology, engineering, and mathematics elective curriculum that culminates in a Summer research internship; has produced 27 Intel and Siemens semifinalists and regional finalists over the past 4 yr; and has supported the development of writing and communication skills resulting in regional and national oral presentations and publications in scientific journals.
PMCID: PMC4041506  PMID: 26086660
3.  Characterization of functional mannose receptor in a continuous hybridoma cell line 
BMC Immunology  2012;13:51.
The mannose receptor is the best described member of the type I transmembrane C-type lectins; however much remains unanswered about the biology of the receptor. One difficulty has been the inability to consistently express high levels of a functional full length mannose receptor cDNA in mammalian cells. Another difficulty has been the lack of a human macrophage cell line expressing a fully functional receptor. Commonly used human macrophage cell lines such as U937, THP-1, Mono-Mac and HL60 do not express the mannose receptor. We have developed a macrophage hybridoma cell line (43MR cells) created by fusion of U937 cells with primary human monocyte-derived macrophages, resulting in a non-adherent cell line expressing several properties of primary macrophages. The purpose of this study was to identify and select mannose receptor-expressing cells using fluorescence-activated cell sorting and to characterize the expression and function of the receptor.
In the current study we show that the mannose receptor found on this novel cell has endocytic characteristics consistent with and similar to the mannose receptor found on the surface of monocyte-derived human macrophages and rat bone marrow-derived macrophages. In addition, we demonstrate that these cells engage and internalize pathogen particles such as S. aureus and C. albicans. We further establish the transfectability of these cells via the introduction of a plasmid expressing influenza A hemagglutinin.
The 43MR cell line represents the first naturally expressed MR-positive cell line derived from a human macrophage background. This cell line provides an important cell model for other researchers for the study of human MR biology and host-pathogen interactions.
PMCID: PMC3495026  PMID: 22967244
4.  Mitogen-activated protein kinases and NFκB are involved in SP-A-enhanced responses of macrophages to mycobacteria 
Respiratory Research  2009;10(1):60.
Surfactant protein A (SP-A) is a C-type lectin involved in surfactant homeostasis as well as host defense in the lung. We have recently demonstrated that SP-A enhances the killing of bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) by rat macrophages through a nitric oxide-dependent pathway. In the current study we have investigated the role of tyrosine kinases and the downstream mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family, and the transcription factor NFκB in mediating the enhanced signaling in response to BCG in the presence of SP-A.
Human SP-A was prepared from alveolar proteinosis fluid, and primary macrophages were obtained by maturation of cells from whole rat bone marrow. BCG-SP-A complexes were routinely prepared by incubation of a ratio of 20 μg of SP-A to 5 × 105 BCG for 30 min at 37°C. Cells were incubated with PBS, SP-A, BCG, or SP-A-BCG complexes for the times indicated. BCG killing was assessed using a 3H-uracil incorporation assay. Phosphorylated protein levels, enzyme assays, and secreted mediator assays were conducted using standard immunoblot and biochemical methods as outlined.
Involvement of tyrosine kinases was demonstrated by herbimycin A-mediated inhibition of the SP-A-enhanced nitric oxide production and BCG killing. Following infection of macrophages with BCG, the MAPK family members ERK1 and ERK2 were activated as evidence by increased tyrosine phosphorylation and enzymatic activity, and this activation was enhanced when the BCG were opsonized with SP-A. An inhibitor of upstream kinases required for ERK activation inhibited BCG- and SP-A-BCG-enhanced production of nitric oxide by approximately 35%. Macrophages isolated from transgenic mice expressing a NFκB-responsive luciferase gene showed increased luciferase activity following infection with BCG, and this activity was enhanced two-fold in the presence of SP-A. Finally, lactacystin, an inhibitor of IκB degradation, reduced BCG- and SP-A-BCG-induced nitric oxide production by 60% and 80% respectively.
These results demonstrate that BCG and SP-A-BCG ingestion by macrophages is accompanied by activation of signaling pathways involving the MAP kinase pathway and NFκB.
PMCID: PMC2717924  PMID: 19566962
5.  Pulmonary Surfactant: An Immunological Perspective 
Pulmonary surfactant has two crucial roles in respiratory function; first, as a biophysical entity it reduces surface tension at the air water interface, facilitating gas exchange and alveolar stability during breathing, and, second, as an innate component of the lung's immune system it helps maintain sterility and balance immune reactions in the distal airways. Pulmonary surfactant consists of 90% lipids and 10% protein. There are four surfactant proteins named SP-A, SP-B, SP-C, and SP-D; their distinct interactions with surfactant phospholipids are necessary for the ultra-structural organization, stability, metabolism, and lowering of surface tension. In addition, SP-A and SP-D bind pathogens, inflict damage to microbial membranes, and regulate microbial phagocytosis and activation or deactivation of inflammatory responses by alveolar macrophages. SP-A and SP-D, also known as pulmonary collectins, mediate microbial phagocytosis via SP-A and SP-D receptors and the coordinated induction of other innate receptors. Several receptors (SP-R210, CD91/calreticulin, SIRPα, and toll-like receptors) mediate the immunological functions of SP-A and SP-D. However, accumulating evidence indicate that SP-B and SP-C and one or more lipid constituents of surfactant share similar immuno-regulatory properties as SP-A and SP-D. The present review discusses current knowledge on the interaction of surfactant with lung innate host defense.
PMCID: PMC3025886  PMID: 20054141
Lung; Surfactant protein; Alveolar macrophages; Collectin; Receptor; Inflammation Innate immunity

Results 1-5 (5)