Academic Appointments

  • Instructor, Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine


Journal Articles

  • Isolation and mutational analysis of circulating tumor cells from lung cancer patients with magnetic sifters and biochips. Lab on a chip Earhart, C. M., Hughes, C. E., Gaster, R. S., Ooi, C. C., Wilson, R. J., Zhou, L. Y., Humke, E. W., Xu, L., Wong, D. J., Willingham, S. B., Schwartz, E. J., Weissman, I. L., Jeffrey, S. S., Neal, J. W., Rohatgi, R., Wakelee, H. A., Wang, S. X. 2013; 14 (1): 78-88


    Detection and characterization of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) may reveal insights into the diagnosis and treatment of malignant disease. Technologies for isolating CTCs developed thus far suffer from one or more limitations, such as low throughput, inability to release captured cells, and reliance on expensive instrumentation for enrichment or subsequent characterization. We report a continuing development of a magnetic separation device, the magnetic sifter, which is a miniature microfluidic chip with a dense array of magnetic pores. It offers high efficiency capture of tumor cells, labeled with magnetic nanoparticles, from whole blood with high throughput and efficient release of captured cells. For subsequent characterization of CTCs, an assay, using a protein chip with giant magnetoresistive nanosensors, has been implemented for mutational analysis of CTCs enriched with the magnetic sifter. The use of these magnetic technologies, which are separate devices, may lead the way to routine preparation and characterization of "liquid biopsies" from cancer patients.

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c3lc50580d

    View details for PubMedID 23969419

  • Anti-CD47 antibody-mediated phagocytosis of cancer by macrophages primes an effective antitumor T-cell response PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Tseng, D., Volkmer, J., Willingham, S. B., Contreras-Trujillo, H., Fathman, J. W., Fernhoff, N. B., Seita, J., Inlay, M. A., Weiskopf, K., Miyanishi, M., Weissman, I. L. 2013; 110 (27): 11103-11108


    Mobilization of the T-cell response against cancer has the potential to achieve long-lasting cures. However, it is not known how to harness antigen-presenting cells optimally to achieve an effective antitumor T-cell response. In this study, we show that anti-CD47 antibody-mediated phagocytosis of cancer by macrophages can initiate an antitumor T-cell immune response. Using the ovalbumin model antigen system, anti-CD47 antibody-mediated phagocytosis of cancer cells by macrophages resulted in increased priming of OT-I T cells [cluster of differentiation 8-positive (CD8(+))] but decreased priming of OT-II T cells (CD4(+)). The CD4(+) T-cell response was characterized by a reduction in forkhead box P3-positive (Foxp3(+)) regulatory T cells. Macrophages following anti-CD47-mediated phagocytosis primed CD8(+) T cells to exhibit cytotoxic function in vivo. This response protected animals from tumor challenge. We conclude that anti-CD47 antibody treatment not only enables macrophage phagocytosis of cancer but also can initiate an antitumor cytotoxic T-cell immune response.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1305569110

    View details for Web of Science ID 000321978000057

    View details for PubMedID 23690610

  • Anti-KIT monoclonal antibody inhibits imatinib-resistant gastrointestinal stromal tumor growth PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Edris, B., Willingham, S. B., Weiskopf, K., Volkmer, A. K., Volkmer, J., Muehlenberg, T., Montgomery, K. D., Contreras-Trujillo, H., Czechowicz, A., Fletcher, J. A., West, R. B., Weissman, I. L., van de Rijn, M. 2013; 110 (9): 3501-3506


    Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) is the most common sarcoma of the gastrointestinal tract and arises from the interstitial cells of Cajal. It is characterized by expression of the receptor tyrosine kinase CD117 (KIT). In 70-80% of GIST cases, oncogenic mutations in KIT are present, leading to constitutive activation of the receptor, which drives the proliferation of these tumors. Treatment of GIST with imatinib, a small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor, inhibits KIT-mediated signaling and initially results in disease control in 70-85% of patients with KIT-positive GIST. However, the vast majority of patients eventually develop resistance to imatinib treatment, leading to disease progression and posing a significant challenge in the clinical management of these tumors. Here, we show that an anti-KIT monoclonal antibody (mAb), SR1, is able to slow the growth of three human GIST cell lines in vitro. Importantly, these reductions in cell growth were equivalent between imatinib-resistant and imatinib-sensitive GIST cell lines. Treatment of GIST cell lines with SR1 reduces cell-surface KIT expression, suggesting that mAb-induced KIT down-regulation may be a mechanism by which SR1 inhibits GIST growth. Furthermore, we also show that SR1 treatment enhances phagocytosis of GIST cells by macrophages, indicating that treatment with SR1 may enhance immune cell-mediated tumor clearance. Finally, using two xenotransplantation models of imatinib-sensitive and imatinib-resistant GIST, we demonstrate that SR1 is able to strongly inhibit tumor growth in vivo. These results suggest that treatment with mAbs targeting KIT may represent an alternative, or complementary, approach for treating GIST.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1222893110

    View details for Web of Science ID 000315841900062

    View details for PubMedID 23382202

  • Anti-CD47 antibodies promote phagocytosis and inhibit the growth of human myeloma cells LEUKEMIA Kim, D., Wang, J., Willingham, S. B., Martin, R., Wernig, G., Weissman, I. L. 2012; 26 (12): 2538-2545


    Multiple myeloma is a plasma cell neoplasm residing in bone marrow. Despite advances in myeloma therapies, novel therapies are required to improve patient outcomes. CD47 is highly expressed on myeloma cells and a potential therapeutic candidate for myeloma therapies. Flow cytometric analysis of patient bone marrow cells revealed that myeloma cells overexpress CD47 when compared with non-myeloma cells in 73% of patients (27/37). CD47 expression protects cells from phagocytosis by transmitting an inhibitory signal to macrophages. Here we show that blocking CD47 with an anti-CD47 monoclonal antibody increased phagocytosis of myeloma cells in vitro. In xenotransplantation models, anti-CD47 antibodies inhibited the growth of RPMI 8226 myeloma cells and led to tumor regression (42/57 mice), implicating the eradication of myeloma-initiating cells. Moreover, anti-CD47 antibodies retarded the growth of patient myeloma cells and alleviated bone resorption in human bone-bearing mice. Irradiation of mice before myeloma cell xenotransplantation abolished the therapeutic efficacy of anti-CD47 antibodies delivered 2 weeks after radiation, and coincided with a reduction of myelomonocytic cells in spleen, bone marrow and liver. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that anti-CD47 blocking antibodies inhibit myeloma growth, in part, by increasing phagocytosis of myeloma cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/leu.2012.141

    View details for Web of Science ID 000312186000013

    View details for PubMedID 22648449

  • The CD47-signal regulatory protein alpha (SIRPa) interaction is a therapeutic target for human solid tumors PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Willingham, S. B., Volkmer, J., Gentles, A. J., Sahoo, D., Dalerba, P., Mitra, S. S., Wang, J., Contreras-Trujillo, H., Martin, R., Cohen, J. D., Lovelace, P., Scheeren, F. A., Chao, M. P., Weiskopf, K., Tang, C., Volkmer, A. K., Naik, T. J., Storm, T. A., Mosley, A. R., Edris, B., Schmid, S. M., Sun, C. K., Chua, M., Murillo, O., Rajendran, P., Cha, A. C., Chin, R. K., Kim, D., Adorno, M., Raveh, T., Tseng, D., Jaiswal, S., Enger, P. O., Steinberg, G. K., Li, G., So, S. K., Majeti, R., Harsh, G. R., van de Rijn, M., Teng, N. N., Sunwoo, J. B., Alizadeh, A. A., Clarke, M. F., Weissman, I. L. 2012; 109 (17): 6662-6667


    CD47, a "don't eat me" signal for phagocytic cells, is expressed on the surface of all human solid tumor cells. Analysis of patient tumor and matched adjacent normal (nontumor) tissue revealed that CD47 is overexpressed on cancer cells. CD47 mRNA expression levels correlated with a decreased probability of survival for multiple types of cancer. CD47 is a ligand for SIRP?, a protein expressed on macrophages and dendritic cells. In vitro, blockade of CD47 signaling using targeted monoclonal antibodies enabled macrophage phagocytosis of tumor cells that were otherwise protected. Administration of anti-CD47 antibodies inhibited tumor growth in orthotopic immunodeficient mouse xenotransplantation models established with patient tumor cells and increased the survival of the mice over time. Anti-CD47 antibody therapy initiated on larger tumors inhibited tumor growth and prevented or treated metastasis, but initiation of the therapy on smaller tumors was potentially curative. The safety and efficacy of targeting CD47 was further tested and validated in immune competent hosts using an orthotopic mouse breast cancer model. These results suggest all human solid tumor cells require CD47 expression to suppress phagocytic innate immune surveillance and elimination. These data, taken together with similar findings with other human neoplasms, show that CD47 is a commonly expressed molecule on all cancers, its function to block phagocytosis is known, and blockade of its function leads to tumor cell phagocytosis and elimination. CD47 is therefore a validated target for cancer therapies.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1121623109

    View details for Web of Science ID 000303249100065

    View details for PubMedID 22451913

  • Antibody therapy targeting the CD47 protein is effective in a model of aggressive metastatic leiomyosarcoma PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Edris, B., Weiskopf, K., Volkmer, A. K., Volkmer, J., Willingham, S. B., Contreras-Trujillo, H., Liu, J., Majeti, R., West, R. B., Fletcher, J. A., Beck, A. H., Weissman, I. L., van de Rijn, M. 2012; 109 (17): 6656-6661


    Antibodies against CD47, which block tumor cell CD47 interactions with macrophage signal regulatory protein-?, have been shown to decrease tumor size in hematological and epithelial tumor models by interfering with the protection from phagocytosis by macrophages that intact CD47 bestows upon tumor cells. Leiomyosarcoma (LMS) is a tumor of smooth muscle that can express varying levels of colony-stimulating factor-1 (CSF1), the expression of which correlates with the numbers of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) that are found in these tumors. We have previously shown that the presence of TAMs in LMS is associated with poor clinical outcome and the overall effect of TAMs in LMS therefore appears to be protumorigenic. However, the use of inhibitory antibodies against CD47 offers an opportunity to turn TAMs against LMS cells by allowing the phagocytic behavior of resident macrophages to predominate. Here we show that interference with CD47 increases phagocytosis of two human LMS cell lines, LMS04 and LMS05, in vitro. In addition, treatment of mice bearing subcutaneous LMS04 and LMS05 tumors with a novel, humanized anti-CD47 antibody resulted in significant reductions in tumor size. Mice bearing LMS04 tumors develop large numbers of lymph node and lung metastases. In a unique model for neoadjuvant treatment, mice were treated with anti-CD47 antibody starting 1 wk before resection of established primary tumors and subsequently showed a striking decrease in the size and number of metastases. These data suggest that treatment with anti-CD47 antibodies not only reduces primary tumor size but can also be used to inhibit the development of, or to eliminate, metastatic disease.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1121629109

    View details for Web of Science ID 000303249100064

    View details for PubMedID 22451919

  • Three differentiation states risk-stratify bladder cancer into distinct subtypes PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Volkmer, J., Sahoo, D., Chin, R. K., Ho, P. L., Tang, C., Kurtova, A. V., Willingham, S. B., Pazhanisamy, S. K., Contreras-Trujillo, H., Storm, T. A., Lotan, Y., Beck, A. H., Chung, B. I., Alizadeh, A. A., Godoy, G., Lerner, S. P., van de Rijng, M., Shortliffe, L. D., Weissman, I. L., Chan, K. S. 2012; 109 (6): 2078-2083


    Current clinical judgment in bladder cancer (BC) relies primarily on pathological stage and grade. We investigated whether a molecular classification of tumor cell differentiation, based on a developmental biology approach, can provide additional prognostic information. Exploiting large preexisting gene-expression databases, we developed a biologically supervised computational model to predict markers that correspond with BC differentiation. To provide mechanistic insight, we assessed relative tumorigenicity and differentiation potential via xenotransplantation. We then correlated the prognostic utility of the identified markers to outcomes within gene expression and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue datasets. Our data indicate that BC can be subclassified into three subtypes, on the basis of their differentiation states: basal, intermediate, and differentiated, where only the most primitive tumor cell subpopulation within each subtype is capable of generating xenograft tumors and recapitulating downstream populations. We found that keratin 14 (KRT14) marks the most primitive differentiation state that precedes KRT5 and KRT20 expression. Furthermore, KRT14 expression is consistently associated with worse prognosis in both univariate and multivariate analyses. We identify here three distinct BC subtypes on the basis of their differentiation states, each harboring a unique tumor-initiating population.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1120605109

    View details for Web of Science ID 000299925000058

    View details for PubMedID 22308455

  • Cutting Edge: NLRC5-Dependent Activation of the Inflammasome JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY Davis, B. K., Roberts, R. A., Huang, M. T., Willingham, S. B., Conti, B. J., Brickey, W. J., Barker, B. R., Kwan, M., Taxman, D. J., Accavitti-Loper, M., Duncan, J. A., Ting, J. P. 2011; 186 (3): 1333-1337


    The nucleotide-binding domain leucine-rich repeat-containing proteins, NLRs, are intracellular sensors of pathogen-associated molecular patterns and damage-associated molecular patterns. A subgroup of NLRs can form inflammasome complexes, which facilitate the maturation of procaspase 1 to caspase 1, leading to IL-1? and IL-18 cleavage and secretion. NLRC5 is predominantly expressed in hematopoietic cells and has not been studied for inflammasome function. RNA interference-mediated knockdown of NLRC5 nearly eliminated caspase 1, IL-1?, and IL-18 processing in response to bacterial infection, pathogen-associated molecular patterns, and damage-associated molecular patterns. This was confirmed in primary human monocytic cells. NLRC5, together with procaspase 1, pro-IL-1?, and the inflammasome adaptor ASC, reconstituted inflammasome activity that showed cooperativity with NLRP3. The range of pathogens that activate NLRC5 inflammasome overlaps with those that activate NLRP3. Furthermore, NLRC5 biochemically associates with NLRP3 in a nucleotide-binding domain-dependent but leucine-rich repeat-inhibitory fashion. These results invoke a model in which NLRC5 interacts with NLRP3 to cooperatively activate the inflammasome.

    View details for DOI 10.4049/jimmunol.1003111

    View details for Web of Science ID 000286381200009

    View details for PubMedID 21191067

  • Calreticulin Is the Dominant Pro-Phagocytic Signal on Multiple Human Cancers and Is Counterbalanced by CD47 SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE Chao, M. P., Jaiswal, S., Weissman-Tsukamoto, R., Alizadeh, A. A., Gentles, A. J., Volkmer, J., Weiskopf, K., Willingham, S. B., Raveh, T., Park, C. Y., Majeti, R., Weissman, I. L. 2010; 2 (63)


    Under normal physiological conditions, cellular homeostasis is partly regulated by a balance of pro- and anti-phagocytic signals. CD47, which prevents cancer cell phagocytosis by the innate immune system, is highly expressed on several human cancers including acute myeloid leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and bladder cancer. Blocking CD47 with a monoclonal antibody results in phagocytosis of cancer cells and leads to in vivo tumor elimination, yet normal cells remain mostly unaffected. Thus, we postulated that cancer cells must also display a potent pro-phagocytic signal. Here, we identified calreticulin as a pro-phagocytic signal that was highly expressed on the surface of several human cancers, but was minimally expressed on most normal cells. Increased CD47 expression correlated with high amounts of calreticulin on cancer cells and was necessary for protection from calreticulin-mediated phagocytosis. Blocking the interaction of target cell calreticulin with its receptor, low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein, on phagocytic cells prevented anti-CD47 antibody-mediated phagocytosis. Furthermore, increased calreticulin expression was an adverse prognostic factor in diverse tumors including neuroblastoma, bladder cancer, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. These findings identify calreticulin as the dominant pro-phagocytic signal on several human cancers, provide an explanation for the selective targeting of tumor cells by anti-CD47 antibody, and highlight the balance between pro- and anti-phagocytic signals in the immune evasion of cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001375

    View details for Web of Science ID 000288444900003

    View details for PubMedID 21178137

  • NLRP3 (NALP3, Cryopyrin) Facilitates In Vivo Caspase-1 Activation, Necrosis, and HMGB1 Release via Inflammasome-Dependent and -Independent Pathways JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY Willingham, S. B., Allen, I. C., Bergstralh, D. T., Brickey, W. J., Huang, M. T., Taxman, D. J., Duncan, J. A., Ting, J. P. 2009; 183 (3): 2008-2015


    Bacterial infection elicits a range of beneficial as well as detrimental host inflammatory responses. Key among these responses are macrophage/monocyte necrosis, release of the proinflammatory factor high-mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1), and induction of the cytokine IL-1. Although the control of IL-1beta has been well studied, processes that control macrophage cell death and HMGB1 release in animals are poorly understood. This study uses Klebsiella pneumonia as a model organism because it elicits all three responses in vivo. The regulation of these responses is studied in the context of the inflammasome components NLRP3 and ASC, which are important for caspase-1 activation and IL-1beta release. Using a pulmonary infection model that reflects human infection, we show that K. pneumonia-induced mouse macrophage necrosis, HMGB1, and IL-1beta release are dependent on NLRP3 and ASC. K. pneumoniae infection of mice lacking Nlrp3 results in decreased lung inflammation and reduced survival relative to control, indicating the overall protective role of this gene. Macrophage/monocyte necrosis and HMGB1 release are controlled independently of caspase-1, suggesting that the former two responses are separable from inflammasome-associated functions. These results provide critical in vivo validation that the physiologic role of NLRP3 and ASC is not limited to inflammasome formation.

    View details for DOI 10.4049/jimmunol.0900138

    View details for Web of Science ID 000268519500060

    View details for PubMedID 19587006

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae Activates the Proteinase Cathepsin B to Mediate the Signaling Activities of the NLRP3 and ASC-Containing Inflammasome JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY Duncan, J. A., Gao, X., Huang, M. T., O'Connor, B. P., Thomas, C. E., Willingham, S. B., Bergstralh, D. T., Jarvis, G. A., Sparling, P. F., Ting, J. P. 2009; 182 (10): 6460-6469


    Neisseria gonorrhoeae is a common sexually transmitted pathogen that significantly impacts female fertility, neonatal health, and transmission of HIV worldwide. N. gonorrhoeae usually causes localized inflammation of the urethra and cervix by inducing production of IL-1beta and other inflammatory cytokines. Several NLR (nucleotide-binding domain, leucine-rich repeat) proteins are implicated in the formation of pro-IL-1beta-processing complexes called inflammasomes in response to pathogens. We demonstrate that NLRP3 (cryopyrin, NALP3) is the primary NLR required for IL-1beta/IL-18 secretion in response to N. gonorrhoeae in monocytes. We also show that N. gonorrhoeae infection promotes NLRP3-dependent monocytic cell death via pyronecrosis, a recently described pathway with morphological features of necrosis, including release of the strong inflammatory mediator HMBG1. Additionally, N. gonorrhoeae activates the cysteine protease cathepsin B as measured by the breakdown of a cathepsin B substrate. Inhibition of cathepsin B shows that this protease is an apical controlling step in the downstream activities of NLRP3 including IL-1beta production, pyronecrosis, and HMGB1 release. Nonpathogenic Neisseria strains (Neisseria cinerea and Neisseria flavescens) do not activate NLRP3 as robustly as N. gonorrhoeae. Conditioned medium from N. gonorrhoeae contains factors capable of initiating the NLRP3-mediated signaling events. Isolated N. gonorrhoeae lipooligosaccharide, a known virulence factor from this bacterium that is elaborated from the bacterium in the form of outer membrane blebs, activates both NLRP3-induced IL-1beta secretion and pyronecrosis. Our findings indicate that activation of NLRP3-mediated inflammatory response pathways is an important venue associated with host response and pathogenesis of N. gonorrhoeae.

    View details for DOI 10.4049/jimmunol.0802696

    View details for Web of Science ID 000265899800065

    View details for PubMedID 19414800

  • Critical Role of Apoptotic Speck Protein Containing a Caspase Recruitment Domain (ASC) and NLRP3 in Causing Necrosis and ASC Speck Formation Induced by Porphyromonas gingivalis in Human Cells JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY Huang, M. T., Taxman, D. J., Holley-Guthrie, E. A., Moore, C. B., Willingham, S. B., Madden, V., Parsons, R. K., Featherstone, G. L., Arnold, R. R., O'Connor, B. P., Ting, J. P. 2009; 182 (4): 2395-2404


    Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disorder that leads to the destruction of tooth-supporting tissue and affects 10-20 million people in the U.S. alone. The oral pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis causes inflammatory host response leading to periodontal and other secondary inflammatory diseases. To identify molecular components that control host response to P. gingivalis in humans, roles for the NLR (NBD-LRR) protein, NLRP3 (cryopyrin, NALP3), and its adaptor apoptotic speck protein containing a C-terminal caspase recruitment domain (ASC) were studied. P. gingivalis strain A7436 induces cell death in THP1 monocytic cells and in human primary peripheral blood macrophages. This process is ASC and NLRP3 dependent and can be replicated by P. gingivalis LPS and Escherichia coli. P. gingivalis-induced cell death is caspase and IL-1 independent and exhibits morphological features consistent with necrosis including loss of membrane integrity and release of cellular content. Intriguingly, P. gingivalis-induced cell death is accompanied by the formation of ASC aggregation specks, a process not previously described during microbial infection. ASC specks are observed in P. gingivalis-infected primary human mononuclear cells and are dependent on NLRP3. This work shows that P. gingivalis causes ASC- and NLRP3-dependent necrosis, accompanied by ASC speck formation.

    View details for DOI 10.4049/jimmunol.0800909

    View details for Web of Science ID 000263126300069

    View details for PubMedID 19201894

  • NLRs and the dangers of pollution and aging NATURE IMMUNOLOGY Willingham, S. B., Ting, J. P. 2008; 9 (8): 831-U16

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ni0808-831

    View details for Web of Science ID 000257780700003

    View details for PubMedID 18645588

  • Cutting edge: Inflammasome activation by alum and alum's adjuvant effect are mediated by NLRP3 JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY Li, H., Willingham, S. B., Ting, J. P., Re, F. 2008; 181 (1): 17-21


    Alum is the only adjuvant approved for routine use in humans, although the basis for its adjuvanticity remains poorly understood. We have recently shown that alum activates caspase-1 and induces secretion of mature IL-1beta and IL-18. In this study we show that, in human and mouse macrophages, alum-induced secretion of IL-1beta, IL-18, and IL-33 is mediated by the NLR (nucleotide-binding domain leucine-rich repeat-containing) protein NLRP3 and its adaptor ASC, but not by NLRC4. Other particulate adjuvants, such as QuilA and chitosan, induce inflammasome activation in a NLRP3-dependent fashion, suggesting that activation of the NLRP3-inflammasome may be a common mechanism of action of particulate adjuvants. Importantly, we demonstrate that Ag-specific Ab production elicited by vaccines that contain alum is significantly impaired in NLRP3-deficient mice. Our results demonstrate for the first time a role for the NLRP3-inflammasome during development of the immune response elicited by alum-enhanced vaccination and suggest that therapeutic intervention aimed at NLRP3 may improve adjuvant efficacy.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000257404900005

    View details for PubMedID 18566365

  • NLRs at the intersection of cell death and immunity NATURE REVIEWS IMMUNOLOGY Ting, J. P., Willingham, S. B., Bergstralh, D. T. 2008; 8 (5): 372-379


    Inflammation is a crucial element of the host response to cellular insult. Pathogen-induced inflammation includes a molecular pathway which proceeds through activation of the protease caspase-1 to the release of the inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1 (IL-1) and IL-18. Importantly, pathogens may also induce forms of cell death that have inherently pro-inflammatory features. Here, we review recent evidence demonstrating that NLR (nucleotide-binding domain, leucine-rich repeat containing) family proteins serve as a common component of both caspase-1-activated apoptotic pathways and caspase-independent necrotic pathways. Parallels are drawn between NLR protein function and the activity of structurally similar proteins involved in cell death: the apoptotic mediator APAF1 (apoptotic-protease-activating factor 1) and the plant disease resistance NBS-LRR (nucleotide-binding site leucine-rich repeats) proteins.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nri2296

    View details for Web of Science ID 000255327200016

    View details for PubMedID 18362948

  • Microbial pathogen-induced necrotic cell death mediated by the inflammasome components CIAS1/Cryopyrin/NLRP3 and ASC CELL HOST & MICROBE Willingham, S. B., Bergstralh, D. T., O'Connor, W., Morrison, A. C., Taxman, D. J., Duncan, J. A., Barnoy, S., Venkatesan, M. I., Flavell, R. A., Deshmukh, M., Hoffman, H. M., Ting, J. P. 2007; 2 (3): 147-159


    Cryopyrin (CIAS1, NLRP3) and ASC are components of the inflammasome, a multiprotein complex required for caspase-1 activation and cytokine IL-1beta production. CIAS1 mutations underlie autoinflammation characterized by excessive IL-1beta secretion. Disease-associated cryopyrin also causes a program of necrosis-like cell death in macrophages, the mechanistic details of which are unknown. We find that patient monocytes carrying disease-associated CIAS1 mutations exhibit excessive necrosis-like death by a process dependent on ASC and cathepsin B, resulting in spillage of the proinflammatory mediator HMGB1. Shigella flexneri infection also causes cryopyrin-dependent macrophage necrosis with features similar to the death caused by mutant CIAS1. This necrotic death is independent of caspase-1 and IL-1beta, and thus independent of the inflammasome. Furthermore, necrosis of primary macrophages requires the presence of Shigella virulence genes. While similar proteins mediate pathogen-induced cell death in plants, this report identifies cryopyrin as an important host regulator of programmed pathogen-induced necrosis in animals, a process we term pyronecrosis.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.chom.2007.07.009

    View details for Web of Science ID 000250203600003

    View details for PubMedID 18005730

  • Cryopyrin/NALP3 binds ATP/dATP, is an ATPase, and requires ATP binding to mediate inflammatory signaling PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Duncan, J. A., Bergstralht, D. T., Wang, Y., Willingham, S. B., Ye, Z., Zimmermann, A. G., Ting, J. P. 2007; 104 (19): 8041-8046


    The CATERPILLER (CLR/NLR) gene family encodes a family of putative nucleotide-binding proteins important for host defense. Although nucleotide binding is thought to be central to this family, this aspect is largely unstudied. The CATERPILLER protein cryopyrin/NALP3 regulates IL-1beta processing by assembling the multimeric inflammasome complex. Mutations within the exon encoding the nucleotide-binding domain are associated with hereditary periodic fevers characterized by constitutive IL-1beta production. We demonstrate that purified cryopyrin binds ATP, dATP, and ATP-agarose, but not CTP, GTP, or UTP, and exhibits ATPase activity. Mutation of the nucleotide-binding domain reduces ATP binding, caspase-1 activation, IL-1beta production, cell death, macromolecular complex formation, self-association, and association with the inflammasome component ASC. Disruption of nucleotide binding abolishes the constitutive activation of disease-associated mutants, identifying nucleotide binding by cryopyrin as a potential target for antiinflammatory pharmacologic intervention.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0611496104

    View details for Web of Science ID 000246461500056

    View details for PubMedID 17483456

  • Yeast genes that enhance the toxicity of a mutant huntingtin fragment or alpha-synuclein SCIENCE Willingham, S., Outeiro, T. F., DeVit, M. J., Lindquist, S. L., Muchowski, P. J. 2003; 302 (5651): 1769-1772


    Genome-wide screens were performed in yeast to identify genes that enhance the toxicity of a mutant huntingtin fragment or of alpha-synuclein. Of 4850 haploid mutants containing deletions of nonessential genes, 52 were identified that were sensitive to a mutant huntingtin fragment, 86 that were sensitive to alpha-synuclein, and only one mutant that was sensitive to both. Genes that enhanced toxicity of the mutant huntingtin fragment clustered in the functionally related cellular processes of response to stress, protein folding, and ubiquitin-dependent protein catabolism, whereas genes that modified alpha-synuclein toxicity clustered in the processes of lipid metabolism and vesicle-mediated transport. Genes with human orthologs were overrepresented in our screens, suggesting that we may have discovered conserved and nonoverlapping sets of cell-autonomous genes and pathways that are relevant to Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000186970100049

    View details for PubMedID 14657499

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