Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University, MI-PHD (2010)
Bachelor of Arts, Carleton College, Biology (2003)
Mark Davis, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Vaccinia immunization was pivotal to successful smallpox eradication. However, the early immune responses that distinguish poxvirus immunization from pathogenic infection remain unknown. To address this, we developed a strategy to map the activation of key signaling networks in vivo and applied this approach to define and compare the earliest signaling events elicited by immunizing (vaccinia) and lethal (ectromelia) poxvirus infections in mice. Vaccinia induced rapid TLR2-dependent responses, leading to IL-6 production, which then initiated STAT3 signaling in dendritic and T cells. In contrast, ectromelia did not induce TLR2 activation, and profound mouse strain-dependent responses were observed. In resistant C57BL/6 mice, the STAT1 and STAT3 pathways were rapidly activated, whereas in susceptible BALB/c mice, IL-6-dependent STAT3 activation did not occur. These data link early immune signaling events to infection outcome and suggest that activation of different pattern-recognition receptors early after infection may be important in determining vaccine efficacy.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.chom.2010.07.008
View details for Web of Science ID 000281169600007
View details for PubMedID 20709294
An early reaction of CD4(+) T lymphocytes to Ag is the production of cytokines, notably IL-2. To detect cytokine-dependent responses, naive Ag-specific T cells were stimulated in vivo and the presence of phosphorylated STAT5 molecules was used to identify the cell populations responding to IL-2. Within hours of T cell priming, IL-2-dependent STAT5 phosphorylation occurred primarily in Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells. In contrast, the Ag-specific T cells received STAT5 signals only after repeated Ag exposure or memory differentiation. Regulatory T cells receiving IL-2 signals proliferated and developed enhanced suppressive activity. These results indicate that one of the earliest events in a T cell response is the activation of endogenous regulatory cells, potentially to prevent autoimmunity.
View details for DOI 10.4049/jimmunol.0900691
View details for Web of Science ID 000275119400037
View details for PubMedID 19542444
MicroRNA (miRNA) genes produce three major RNA products; primary (pri-), precursor (pre-), and mature miRNAs. Each product includes sequences complementary to cognate targets, thus they all can in principle interact with the targets. In a recent study we showed that pri-miRNAs play a direct role in target recognition and repression in the absence of functional mature miRNAs. Here we examined the functional contribution of pri-miRNAs in target regulation when full-length functional miRNAs are present. We found that pri-let-7 loop nucleotides control the production of the 5' end of mature miRNAs and modulate the activity of the miRNA gene. This insight enabled us to modulate biogenesis of functional mature miRNAs and dissect the causal relationships between mature miRNA biogenesis and target repression. We demonstrate that both pri- and mature miRNAs can contribute to target repression and that their contributions can be distinguished by the differences between the pri- and mature miRNAs' sensitivity to bind to the first seed nucleotide. Our results demonstrate that the regulatory information encoded in the pri-/pre-miRNA loop nucleotides controls the activities of pri-miRNAs and mature let-7 by influencing pri-miRNA and target complex formation and the fidelity of mature miRNA seed generation.
View details for DOI 10.4161/rna.8.6.17626
View details for Web of Science ID 000298630600020
View details for PubMedID 22142974
Major RNA products of a microRNA (miRNA) gene--the long primary transcript (pri-miRNA), the ?70-nucleotide (nt) precursor miRNA (pre-miRNA), and the ?21-nt mature miRNA--all contain the same sequence required for target gene recognition. Thus, it is intrinsically difficult to discern the contribution of individual RNA species or to rule out a function of miRNA precursor species in target repression. Here, we describe a novel approach to dissect the functional contribution of pri-miRNA without compromising important cellular pathways. We show that pri-let-7 has a direct function in target repression in the absence of properly processed mature let-7. Moreover, we show that loop nucleotides provide regulatory controls of the activity of pri-let-7 by modulating interactions between pri-let-7 and target RNAs in vitro and in vivo. Finally, we show that human let-7a-3 pri-miRNA can directly interact with target mRNAs. These findings illustrate that the regulatory information encoded in structured pri-miRNAs may be translated into function through direct interactions with target mRNAs.
View details for DOI 10.1038/emboj.2010.208
View details for Web of Science ID 000283700700007
View details for PubMedID 20808284
Replication-selective oncolytic viruses (virotherapeutics) are being developed as novel cancer therapies with unique mechanisms of action, but limitations in i.v. delivery to tumors and systemic efficacy have highlighted the need for improved agents for this therapeutic class to realize its potential. Here we describe the rational, stepwise design and evaluation of a systemically effective virotherapeutic (JX-963). We first identified a highly potent poxvirus strain that also trafficked efficiently to human tumors after i.v. administration. This strain was then engineered to target cancer cells with activation of the transcription factor E2F and the EGFR pathway by deletion of the thymidine kinase and vaccinia growth factor genes. For induction of tumor-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes, we further engineered the virus to express human GM-CSF. JX-963 was more potent than the previously used virotherapeutic Onyx-015 adenovirus and as potent as wild-type vaccinia in all cancer cell lines tested. Significant cancer selectivity of JX-963 was demonstrated in vitro in human tumor cell lines, in vivo in tumor-bearing rabbits, and in primary human surgical samples ex vivo. Intravenous administration led to systemic efficacy against both primary carcinomas and widespread organ-based metastases in immunocompetent mice and rabbits. JX-963 therefore holds promise as a rationally designed, targeted virotherapeutic for the systemic treatment of cancer in humans and warrants clinical testing.
View details for DOI 10.1172/JC132727
View details for Web of Science ID 000250676000027
View details for PubMedID 17965776