The applicant is a physician-scientist dedicated to investigating clinically-relevant questions with the goal of developing a career as an independent investigator. Through training in immunology and clinical pathology focusing on transplantation and clinical histocompatibility the candidate has developed clinical expertise necessary for discerning clinically-relevant and scientifically important questions and translating basic science findings into clinical medicine. With these skills, the candidate, with help from mentor Paul M. Allen at Washington University in St. Louis, has developed a research project to address the fundamental barrier to allogeneic transplantation, the strong primary alloreactive response of T cells to allogeneic major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. While it has long been recognized that the wide array of polymorphisms in MHC in combination with the direct role of MHC in activation of T cells through the T cell receptor (TCR) makes MHC the primary antigenic barrier to transplantation, the molecular interactions between TCR and allogeneic MHC defining alloreactivity remain enigmatic. Alloreactivity is important both in fundamental understanding of T cell recognition of antigen, as well as in clinical allogeneic transplantation. The applicant and mentor hypothesize that the repertoire of alloreactive T cells mediating graft vs. host disease (GvHD), a highly clinically-relevant manifestation of alloreactivity, is expanded by T cells naturally expressing dual TCRs and that the TCR repertoire involved in GvHD is greatly influenced by CDR3 composition which is critical for specific or polyspecific recognition of presented peptide antigens. To address these questions, the applicant proposes research that continues investigation of the influence of the TCR repertoire in GvHD;the applicant proposes to translate preliminary results demonstrating the participation of highly alloreactive dual TCR T cells in GvHD to human models, including clinical feasibility studies for diagnostic test development. Additionally, the applicant proposes examining the breadth of the repertoire of T cells mediating GvHD, to identify molecular determinants of the TCR repertoire predisposing alloreactivity, and subsequent functional studies to determine critical molecular interactions of the TCR with allogeneic MHC and presented peptides. Together, these studies will improve understanding of molecular interactions defining the alloreactive T cell response responsible for GvHD, enabling further investigation and rational design of improved diagnostics, immunosuppressive agents, and donor matching strategies. The work proposed in this application, in combination with the mentorship of Dr. Allen and the support of the academic community at the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Washington University will enable the applicant to develop into an independent investigator physician scientist. Molecular Definition of the Alloreactive T Cell Receptor Repertoire

Public Health Relevance

Alloreactivity, T cell recognition of allogeneic MHC, is an important area of investigation, both for understanding T cell biology, as well as in successful clinical transplantation;T cell recognition of allogeneic MHC is the primary barrier to successful clinical allogeneic transplantation, though the molecular interactions of TCR with allogeneic MHC and presented peptides are not well defined. This project aims to advance understanding of the molecular features of these interactions, enabling subsequent advances in solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Clinical Investigator Award (CIA) (K08)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Transplantation Biology &Immunology-2 (AITC)
Program Officer
Prograis, Lawrence J
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of California San Diego
Schools of Medicine
La Jolla
United States
Zip Code
Trovillion, Erin M; Gloude, Nicholas J; Anderson, Eric J et al. (2018) Relationship of post-transplant thymopoiesis with CD4+FoxP3+ regulatory T cell recovery associated with freedom from chronic graft versus host disease. Bone Marrow Transplant :
Balakrishnan, Amritha; Gloude, Nicholas; Sasik, Roman et al. (2017) Proinflammatory Dual Receptor T Cells in Chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 23:1852-1860
Balakrishnan, Amritha; Morris, Gerald P (2016) The highly alloreactive nature of dual TCR T cells. Curr Opin Organ Transplant 21:22-8
Jama, Burhan P; Morris, Gerald P (2014) Generation of human alloantigen-specific T cells from peripheral blood. J Vis Exp :e52257
Ni, Peggy P; Solomon, Benjamin; Hsieh, Chyi-Song et al. (2014) The ability to rearrange dual TCRs enhances positive selection, leading to increased Allo- and Autoreactive T cell repertoires. J Immunol 193:1778-86
Morris, Gerald P; Uy, Geoffrey L; Donermeyer, David et al. (2013) Dual receptor T cells mediate pathologic alloreactivity in patients with acute graft-versus-host disease. Sci Transl Med 5:188ra74
Morris, Gerald P; Allen, Paul M (2012) How the TCR balances sensitivity and specificity for the recognition of self and pathogens. Nat Immunol 13:121-8
Morris, Gerald P; Ni, Peggy P; Allen, Paul M (2011) Alloreactivity is limited by the endogenous peptide repertoire. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108:3695-700