The long-term goal of this proposal is to gain a better understanding of the human mucosal immune system and the role of IgA receptors in the mucosal immune response. Oral vaccine delivery offers significant advantages over conventional parenteral routes. Most notably, it stimulates mucosal immune responses that combat pathogens at the sites of invasion. However, a major limitation that has hindered the development of oral vaccines has been a lack of understanding of how to effectively present the vaccine antigen to the mucosal immune system. One promising approach currently being investigated to overcome this limitation is the use of secretory IgA (SIgA) as a vaccine delivery vehicle. SIgA is extremely stable in the harsh gastrointestinal environment, and binds and is taken up by intestinal microfold (M) cells that are specialized for transporting luminal antigens across the follicle-associated epithelium of Peyer's patches. A recent study indicated that when administered orally to mice, recombinant SIgA carrying a linear antigenic epitope inserted into the secretory component induced immune responses against the antigen. Studies also showed that the binding of SIgA to mouse M cells is mediated by a novel IgA receptor. The molecular identity of the mouse M cell is currently unknown. It is also not known if human M cells express a comparable IgA receptor. Therefore, an important goal of this project is to identify the IgA receptor expressed on human M-cells generated by coculturing intestinal epithelial Caco-2 cells with Raji B cells. Since there are major differences between mice and humans in the expression and function of IgA receptors, we will first determine if human M cells also express a novel IgA receptor or if known IgA receptors are responsible for IgA-binding to human M cells. If the presence of a novel IgA receptor is suggested, we will identify it using two different experimental approaches, i.e., cDNA expression cloning and immunoprecipitation. Once we identify the human M-cell IgA receptor (novel or known), we will analyze its expression in human intestinal biopsy samples and its function in SIgA transcytosis in vitro. Another major goal of this project is to understand how human M cells regulate SIgA transcytosis. Human IgA is a highly complex glycoprotein and we will produce well-defined recombinant human IgA molecules each of which contains a specific modification in the glycan or protein moiety. Using these antibodies, we will identify the motifs and epitopes of human SIgA that control the efficiency of its binding and transport by human M cells generated in vitro. Furthermore, we will also identify intracellular signaling pathways activated by SIgA-binding to M cells and determine if their activities regulate the efficiency of SIgA transcytosis. M-cell targeting strategies developed in mice are often not applicable to humans because of the differences in IgA biology and the surface characteristics of M cells between these two organisms. The proposed studies using human M cells will provide the fundamental knowledge essential for the development of practical SIgA-based oral vaccines for humans.

Public Health Relevance

Oral vaccines do not require sterile injection equipment or highly skilled medical personnel, thus significantly reducing the costs and workload necessary for immunization. The proposed studies will increase our understanding of how oral vaccines are taken up by the human intestine. They will also provide new strategies for the development of safe and efficient needle-free vaccines.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Cellular and Molecular Immunology - A Study Section (CMIA)
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Rothermel, Annette L
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University of California Los Angeles
Schools of Medicine
Los Angeles
United States
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