Education & Certifications
Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University, STMRM-PHD (2020)
Bachelor of Science, Stanford University, Bioengineering (2014)
Microglia become progressively activated and seemingly dysfunctional with age, and genetic studies have linked these cells to the pathogenesis of a growing number of neurodegenerative diseases. Here we report a striking buildup of lipid droplets in microglia with aging in mouse and human brains. These cells, which we call 'lipid-droplet-accumulating microglia' (LDAM), are defective in phagocytosis, produce high levels of reactive oxygen species and secrete proinflammatory cytokines. RNA-sequencing analysis of LDAM revealed a transcriptional profile driven by innate inflammation that is distinct from previously reported microglial states. An unbiased CRISPR-Cas9 screen identified genetic modifiers of lipid droplet formation; surprisingly, variants of several of these genes, including progranulin (GRN), are causes of autosomal-dominant forms of human neurodegenerative diseases. We therefore propose that LDAM contribute to age-related and genetic forms of neurodegeneration.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41593-019-0566-1
View details for PubMedID 31959936
Alzheimer's disease is an incurable neurodegenerative disorder in which neuroinflammation has a critical function1. However, little is known about the contribution of the adaptive immune response in Alzheimer's disease2. Here, using integrated analyses of multiple cohorts, we identify peripheral and central adaptive immune changes in Alzheimer's disease. First, we performed mass cytometry of peripheral blood mononuclear cells and discovered an immune signature of Alzheimer's disease that consists of increased numbers of CD8+ T effector memory CD45RA+ (TEMRA) cells. In a second cohort, we found that CD8+ TEMRA cells were negatively associated with cognition. Furthermore, single-cell RNA sequencing revealed that T cell receptor (TCR) signalling was enhanced in these cells. Notably, by using several strategies of single-cell TCR sequencing in a third cohort, we discovered clonally expanded CD8+ TEMRA cells in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Alzheimer's disease. Finally, we used machine learning, cloning and peptide screens to demonstrate the specificity of clonally expanded TCRs in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Alzheimer's disease to two separate Epstein-Barr virus antigens. These results reveal an adaptive immune response in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid in Alzheimer's disease and provide evidence of clonal, antigen-experienced T cells patrolling the intrathecal space of brains affected by age-related neurodegeneration.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-019-1895-7
View details for PubMedID 31915375
A rapidly ageing population and a limited therapeutic toolbox urgently necessitate new approaches to treat neurodegenerative diseases. Brain ageing, the key risk factor for neurodegeneration, involves complex cellular and molecular processes that eventually result in cognitive decline. Although cell-intrinsic defects in neurons and glia may partially explain this decline, cell-extrinsic changes in the systemic environment, mediated by blood, have recently been shown to contribute to brain dysfunction with age. Here, we review the current understanding of how systemic factors mediate brain ageing, how these factors are regulated and how we can translate these findings into therapies for neurodegenerative diseases.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41583-019-0255-9
View details for PubMedID 31913356
The mammalian brain contains neurogenic niches that comprise neural stem cells and other cell types. Neurogenic niches become less functional with age, but how they change during ageing remains unclear. Here we perform single-cell RNA sequencing of young and old neurogenic niches in mice. The analysis of 14,685 single-cell transcriptomes reveals a decrease in activated neural stem cells, changes in endothelial cells and microglia, and an infiltration of T cells in old neurogenic niches. T cells in old brains are clonally expanded and are generally distinct from those in old blood, which suggests that they may experience specific antigens. T cells in old brains also express interferon-?, and the subset of neural stem cells that has a high interferon response shows decreased proliferation in vivo. We find that T cells can inhibit the proliferation of neural stem cells in co-cultures and in vivo, in part by secreting interferon-?. Our study reveals an interaction between T cells and neural stem cells in old brains, opening potential avenues through which to counteract age-related decline in brain function.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-019-1362-5
View details for PubMedID 31270459
Healthy bone marrow progenitors yield a coordinated balance of hematopoietic lineages. This balance shifts with aging toward enhanced granulopoiesis with diminished erythropoiesis and lymphopoiesis, changes which likely contribute to the development of bone marrow disorders in the elderly. In this study, RUNX3 was identified as a hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell factor whose levels decline with aging in humans and mice. This decline is exaggerated in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells from subjects diagnosed with unexplained anemia of the elderly. Hematopoietic stem cells from elderly unexplained anemia patients had diminished erythroid but unaffected granulocytic colony forming potential. Knockdown studies revealed human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells to be strongly influenced by RUNX3 levels, with modest deficiencies abrogating erythroid differentiation at multiple steps while retaining capacity for granulopoiesis. Transcriptome profiling indicated control by RUNX3 of key erythroid transcription factors, including KLF1 and GATA1. These findings thus implicate RUNX3 as a participant in HSPC aging, and a key determinant of erythroid-myeloid lineage balance.
View details for DOI 10.3324/haematol.2018.208918
View details for PubMedID 31171641
In this issue of Neuron, Tufail et al. present an underlying mechanism for microglia-mediated elimination of virally transduced cells in the central nervous system. These findings could contribute to the development of improved gene therapies for various neurological disorders by exploring why microglia destroy viable cells following viral infection.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.01.025
View details for PubMedID 28182900
Determining the developmental pathway leading to erythrocytes and being able to isolate their progenitors are crucial to understanding and treating disorders of red cell imbalance such as anemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, and polycythemia vera. Here we show that the human erythrocyte progenitor (hEP) can be prospectively isolated from adult bone marrow. We found three subfractions that possessed different expression patterns of CD105 and CD71 within the previously defined human megakaryocyte/erythrocyte progenitor (hMEP; Lineage(-) CD34(+) CD38(+) IL-3R?(-) CD45RA(-)) population. Both CD71(-) CD105(-) and CD71(+) CD105(-) MEPs, at least in vitro, still retained bipotency for the megakaryocyte (MegK) and erythrocyte (E) lineages, although the latter subpopulation is skewed in differentiation toward the erythroid lineage. Notably, the proliferative and differentiation output of the CD71(intermediate(int)/+) CD105(+) subset of cells within the MEP population was completely restricted to the erythroid lineage with the loss of MegK potential. CD71(+) CD105(-) MEPs are erythrocyte-biased MEPs (E-MEPs) and CD71(int/+) CD105(+) cells are EPs. These previously unclassified populations may facilitate further understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing human erythroid development and serve as potential therapeutic targets in disorders of the erythroid lineage.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1512076112
View details for PubMedID 26195758
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of disorders characterized by variable cytopenias and ineffective hematopoiesis. Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and myeloid progenitors in MDS have not been extensively characterized. We transplanted purified human HSCs from MDS samples into immunodeficient mice and show that HSCs are the disease-initiating cells in MDS. We identify a recurrent loss of granulocyte-macrophage progenitors (GMPs) in the bone marrow of low risk MDS patients that can distinguish low risk MDS from clinical mimics, thus providing a simple diagnostic tool. The loss of GMPs is likely due to increased apoptosis and increased phagocytosis, the latter due to the up-regulation of cell surface calreticulin, a prophagocytic marker. Blocking calreticulin on low risk MDS myeloid progenitors rescues them from phagocytosis in vitro. However, in the high-risk refractory anemia with excess blasts (RAEB) stages of MDS, the GMP population is increased in frequency compared with normal, and myeloid progenitors evade phagocytosis due to up-regulation of CD47, an antiphagocytic marker. Blocking CD47 leads to the selective phagocytosis of this population. We propose that MDS HSCs compete with normal HSCs in the patients by increasing their frequency at the expense of normal hematopoiesis, that the loss of MDS myeloid progenitors by programmed cell death and programmed cell removal are, in part, responsible for the cytopenias, and that up-regulation of the "don't eat me" signal CD47 on MDS myeloid progenitors is an important transition step leading from low risk MDS to high risk MDS and, possibly, to acute myeloid leukemia.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1222861110
View details for PubMedID 23388639
Reduced gene dosage of ribosomal protein subunits has been implicated in 5q- myelodysplastic syndrome and Diamond Blackfan anemia, but the cellular and pathophysiologic defects associated with these conditions are enigmatic. Using conditional inactivation of the ribosomal protein S6 gene in laboratory mice, we found that reduced ribosomal protein gene dosage recapitulates cardinal features of the 5q- syndrome, including macrocytic anemia, erythroid hypoplasia, and megakaryocytic dysplasia with thrombocytosis, and that p53 plays a critical role in manifestation of these phenotypes. The blood cell abnormalities are accompanied by a reduction in the number of HSCs, a specific defect in late erythrocyte development, and suggest a disease-specific ontogenetic pathway for megakaryocyte development. Further studies of highly purified HSCs from healthy patients and from those with myelodysplastic syndrome link reduced expression of ribosomal protein genes to decreased RBC maturation and suggest an underlying and common pathophysiologic pathway for additional subtypes of myelodysplastic syndrome.
View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2010-11-318584
View details for PubMedID 21788341