Staatsexamen, J W Goethe Universitat Frankfurt (2007)
Doctor of Medicine, Justus Liebig Universitat (2008)
Mark Davis, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Although each T lymphocyte expresses a T-cell receptor (TCR) that recognizes cognate antigen and controls T-cell activation, different T cells bearing the same TCR can be functionally distinct. Each TCR is a heterodimer, and both α- and β-chains contribute to determining TCR antigen specificity. Here we present a methodology enabling integration of information about TCR specificity with information about T cell function. This method involves sequencing of TCRα and TCRβ genes, and amplifying functional genes characteristic of different T cell subsets, in single T cells. Because this approach retains information about individual TCRα-TCRβ pairs, TCRs of interest can be expressed and used in functional studies, for antigen discovery, or in therapeutic applications. We apply this approach to study the clonal ancestry and differentiation of T lymphocytes infiltrating a human colorectal carcinoma.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nbt.2938
View details for PubMedID 24952902
Multiplexed fluorescence or electrochemiluminescence immunoassays of soluble cytokines are commonly performed in the context of human serum or plasma, to look for disease biomarkers and to monitor the immune system in a simple and minimally invasive way. These assays provide challenges due to the complexities of the matrix (serum or plasma) and the presence of many cytokines near the limit of detection of the assay. Here, we compare the readout of matched serum and plasma samples, which are generally correlated. However, a subset of cytokines usually have higher levels in serum, and the non-specific background is significantly increased in serum versus plasma. Presumably as a result of this non-specific background, disease-related decreases in low-abundance cytokines can sometimes be detected in plasma but not in serum. We further show, through spike recovery experiments, that both serum and plasma inhibit the readout of many cytokines, with some variability between donors, but with serum causing greater inhibition than plasma in many cases. Standard diluents from different vendors can partially reverse this inhibition to varying degrees. Dilution of samples can also partly overcome the inhibitory effect of the matrix. We also show that dilution is nonlinear and differentially affects various cytokines. Together, these data argue that (1) plasma is a more sensitive matrix for detecting changes in certain low-abundance cytokines; (2) calculation of concentrations in serum or plasma matrices is inherently inaccurate; and (3) dilution of samples should not be assumed to be linear, i.e., all comparisons need to be made among similarly diluted samples.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s12026-014-8491-6
View details for Web of Science ID 000336333700008
View details for PubMedID 24522699
CD4(+)CD25(+)FOXP3(+) human regulatory T cells (Tregs) are essential for self-tolerance and immune homeostasis. Here, we describe the promoterome of CD4(+)CD25(high)CD45RA(+) naïve and CD4(+)CD25(high)CD45RA(-) memory Tregs and their CD25(-) conventional T-cell (Tconv) counterparts both before and after in vitro expansion by cap analysis of gene expression (CAGE) adapted to single-molecule sequencing (HeliScopeCAGE). We performed comprehensive comparative digital gene expression analyses and revealed novel transcription start sites, of which several were validated as alternative promoters of known genes. For all in vitro expanded subsets, we additionally generated global maps of poised and active enhancer elements marked by histone H3 lysine 4 monomethylation and histone H3 lysine 27 acetylation, describe their cell type-specific motif signatures, and evaluate the role of candidate transcription factors STAT5, FOXP3, RUNX1, and ETS1 in both Treg- and Tconv-specific enhancer architectures. Network analyses of gene expression data revealed additional candidate transcription factors contributing to cell type specificity and a transcription factor network in Tregs that is dominated by FOXP3 interaction partners and targets. In summary, we provide a comprehensive and easily accessible resource of gene expression and gene regulation in human Treg and Tconv subpopulations.
View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2013-02-486944
View details for PubMedID 24671953
CD4(+)CD25(+)FOXP3(+) regulatory T cells (Treg) are pivotal for peripheral self-tolerance. They prevent immune responses to auto- and alloantigens and are thus under close scrutiny as cellular therapeutics for autoimmune diseases and the prevention or treatment of alloresponses after organ or stem cell transplantation. We previously showed that human Treg with a memory cell phenotype, but not those with a naive phenotype, rapidly downregulate expression of the lineage-defining transcription factor FOXP3 upon in vitro expansion. We now compared the transcriptomes of stable FOXP3(+) Treg and converted FOXP3(-) ex-Treg by applying a newly developed intranuclear staining protocol that permits the isolation of intact mRNA from fixed, permeabilized, and FACS-purified cell populations. Whole-genome microarray analysis revealed strong and selective upregulation of Th2 signature genes, including GATA-3, IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13, upon downregulation of FOXP3. Th2 differentiation of converted FOXP3(-) ex-Treg occurred even under nonpolarizing conditions and could not be prevented by IL-4 signaling blockade. Thus, our studies identify Th2 differentiation as the default developmental program of human Treg after downregulation of FOXP3.
View details for DOI 10.4049/jimmunol.1102288
View details for Web of Science ID 000299690200042
View details for PubMedID 22210907
The adoptive transfer of in vitro expanded Treg is a promising treatment option for autoimmune as well as alloantigen-induced diseases. Yet, concerns about the phenotypic and functional stability of Tregs upon in vitro culture command both careful selection of the starting population and thorough characterization of the final cell product. Recently, a high degree of developmental plasticity has been described for murine Treg and Th17 cells. Similarly, IL-17-producing FOXP3(+) cells have been detected among the CD45RA(-) memory-type subpopulation of human Tregs ex vivo. This prompted us to investigate the predisposition of human naïve and memory Tregs to develop into Th17 cells during polyclonal in vitro expansion. Here, we show that stimulation-induced DNA demethylation of RORC, which encodes the lineage-defining transcription factor for Th17 cells, occurs selectively in CD45RA(-) memory-type Tregs, irrespective of their FOXP3 expression level. On the contrary, naïve CD45RA(+) Tregs retain stable CpG methylation across the RORC locus even upon prolonged ex vivo expansion and in consequence show only a marginal tendency to express RORC and develop into IL-17-producing cells. These findings are highly relevant for the generation of therapeutic Treg products.
View details for DOI 10.1002/eji.201041067
View details for Web of Science ID 000289957100033
View details for PubMedID 21469109
Interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) has a critical role in antiviral immunity and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) have been demonstrated as the principal IFN-alpha source after Toll-like receptor (TLR) 7 and 9 stimulation. Little is known about the contribution of pDC-independent IFN-alpha sources to total IFN-alpha production capacity of human peripheral blood. Using an array of pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPs), Poly(I:C)/Dotap represented the second strongest IFN-alpha stimulus in total PBMC. Poly(I:C)/Dotap induced three times more IFN-alpha, when compared to TLR7-stimulation (R848) and four times less, when compared to TLR9-stimulation. Dotap (mediator of cellular uptake) dramatically increased Poly(I:C)-induced IFN-alpha production. Sorting experiments and ELISpot assays revealed that monocytes and not myeloid DCs are the main IFN-alpha source after Poly(I:C)/Dotap stimulation. ELISpot analyses demonstrated the highest IFN-alpha spot numbers after Poly(I:C)/Dotap stimulation. Although pDCs produced highest IFN-alpha levels per cell, monocytes represent a competing IFN-alpha source in total PBMC due to their high frequency.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.clim.2008.01.014
View details for Web of Science ID 000255231100018
View details for PubMedID 18342575