Bachelor of Science, Florida State University (2009)
Doctor of Philosophy, University of Florida (2016)
T cell biology and aging
Effective teaching strategies, active learning
Vaccination is a mainstay in preventive medicine, reducing morbidity and mortality from infection, largely by generating pathogen-specific neutralizing antibodies. However, standard immunization strategies are insufficient with increasing age due to immunological impediments, including defects in T follicular helper (Tfh) cells. Here, we found that Tfh generation is inversely linked to the expression of the ecto-NTPDase CD39 that modifies purinergic signaling. The lineage-determining transcription factor BCL6 inhibited CD39 expression, while increased Tfh frequencies were found in individuals with a germline polymorphism preventing transcription of ENTPD1, encoding CD39. In in vitro human and in vivo mouse studies, Tfh generation and germinal center responses were enhanced by reducing CD39 expression through the inhibition of the cAMP/PKA/p-CREB pathway, or by blocking adenosine signaling downstream of CD39 using the selective adenosine A2a receptor antagonist istradefylline. Thus, purinergic signaling in differentiating T cells can be targeted to improve vaccine responses, in particular in older individuals who have increased CD39 expression.
View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI132417
View details for PubMedID 32452837
The T cell repertoire in each individual includes T cell receptors (TCRs) of enormous sequence diversity through the pairing of diverse TCR α- and β-chains, each generated by somatic recombination of paralogous gene segments. Whether the TCR repertoire contributes to susceptibility to infectious or autoimmune diseases in concert with disease-associated major histocompatibility complex (MHC) polymorphisms is unknown. Due to a lack in high-throughput technologies to sequence TCR α-β pairs, current studies on whether the TCR repertoire is shaped by host genetics have so far relied only on single-chain analysis. Using a high-throughput single T cell sequencing technology, we obtained the largest paired TCRαβ dataset so far, comprising 965,523 clonotypes from 15 healthy individuals including 6 monozygotic twin pairs. Public TCR α- and, to a lesser extent, TCR β-chain sequences were common in all individuals. In contrast, sharing of entirely identical TCRαβ amino acid sequences was very infrequent in unrelated individuals, but highly increased in twins, in particular in CD4 memory T cells. Based on nucleotide sequence identity, a subset of these shared clonotypes appeared to be the progeny of T cells that had been generated during fetal development and had persisted for more than 50 y. Additional shared TCRαβ in twins were encoded by different nucleotide sequences, implying that genetic determinants impose structural constraints on thymic selection that favor the selection of TCR α-β pairs with entire sequence identities.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1915008117
View details for PubMedID 31879353
The α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) is a promising drug target for a number of neurological disorders including chronic pain and inflammatory diseases. Since α7 can function as a ligand-gated ion channel, drug development initially focused on ligands that were selective activators of the α7 ion channel. However, the best α7 drugs for chronic pain and inflammation indications may not be ion channel activators but rather "silent agonists", which bind to the receptor but preferentially induce non-conducting states that modulate signal transduction in non-neuronal cells. One such compound is NS6740. We show that NS6740 selectively induces prolonged desensitization of α7 nAChRs. There are two forms of α7 desensitization that can be distinguished by their sensitivity to the positive allosteric modulators (PAMs). At high concentrations, NS6740 preferentially induces PAM-insensitive desensitization, which over the course of several minutes reverts to the sensitive form. NS6740 was tested in several pain models after in vivo administration in the mouse. Although it had no effects in acute thermal pain, NS6740 induced significant dose- and time-dependent antinociceptive activity in formalin- and acetic acid-induced nociceptive behaviors as well as in the chronic constrictive nerve injury (CCI) model for neuropathic pain. The antinociceptive activity of NS6740 in these models was α7-dependent. In addition, NS6740 administration reversed pain-induced aversion, an important affective component of pain. The time and concentration dependence of the effects were consistent with NS6740 induction of PAM-insensitive non-conducting states, suggesting that signal transduction required for analgesia is accomplished by α7 receptors in that conformation.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2014.12.002
View details for Web of Science ID 000350926100004
View details for PubMedID 25497451
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4312719
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