This proposal outlines a two-year transitional grant for June L. Round, Ph.D. This grant would be activated once Dr. Round begins an assistant professor position at a research institution and would be used to fund the initial years of her work. Dr. Round is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology in the laboratory of Dr. Sarkis K. Mazmanian. Dr. Round's research utilizes the commensal organism, Bacteroides fragilis, as a model bacterial organism to study commensal-host relationships. Her preliminary work has found that a molecule, polysaccharide A (PSA), made by this bacteria mediates protection from the inflammation associated with an animal model of inflammatory bowel disease. She has further demonstrated that this molecule induces a population of T cells, known as T regulatory cells, that are known to actively suppress host inflammatory pathways. She has also found that PSA is able to accomplish this through direct signaling of toll like receptor 2 (TLR2) on a T cell. As TLR signaling was, until recently, thought to be restricted to cells of the innate immune system, this proposal sets forth experiments to understand the signaling pathways that are induced downstream of TLR2 engagement by PSA within Tregs. Additionally, these experiments will utilize in vivo models to understand the contribution of TLR2 on a T cell to PSA mediated anti-inflammatory activity. Finally, she will utilize TLR2 ligands in a step-wise fashion to determine whether these can be used to enhance Treg activity and suppress intestinal disease. As Tregs are known to be protective in multiple allergy and autoimmune models of disease, understanding how Tregs are regulated and how we can manipulate their activity will provide novel cellular therapies. The proposed work will uncover a novel layer of how T cells and more specifically Tregs are regulated and represents a substantial step in harnessing Treg activity for health benefits.

Public Health Relevance

Over the last decade, the western world has seen a dramatic rise in the incidence of allergy and autoimmune disease. Coincident with this increase in disease, is the increased use of antibiotics and anti-bacterials. It has been suggested that the western world's fixation with cleanliness has changed our relationship with the commensal bacteria that reside on almost all environmentally exposed surfaces of our bodies. Indeed, commensal organisms have been linked to autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. T regulatory cells are an important subset of immune cells that protect from chronic inflammation. We have identified a bacterial molecule ,PSA, that induces Tregs through engagement of a surface receptor, TLR2. This proposal will investigate the molecular basis for PSA activity through TLR2 and determine whether bacterial molecules such as PSA can be used to enhance Treg activity as a therapy to treat autoimmunity and allergy.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Career Transition Award (K22)
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Allergy & Clinical Immunology-1 (AITC)
Program Officer
Prograis, Lawrence J
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University of Utah
Schools of Medicine
Salt Lake City
United States
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Whiteside, Sarah K; Snook, Jeremy P; Ma, Ying et al. (2018) IL-10 Deficiency Reveals a Role for TLR2-Dependent Bystander Activation of T Cells in Lyme Arthritis. J Immunol 200:1457-1470
Kubinak, Jason L; Round, June L (2016) Do antibodies select a healthy microbiota? Nat Rev Immunol 16:767-774
Kubinak, Jason L; Petersen, Charisse; Stephens, W Zac et al. (2015) MyD88 signaling in T cells directs IgA-mediated control of the microbiota to promote health. Cell Host Microbe 17:153-63
Kubinak, Jason L; Stephens, W Zac; Soto, Ray et al. (2015) MHC variation sculpts individualized microbial communities that control susceptibility to enteric infection. Nat Commun 6:8642
Hu, Ruozhen; Kagele, Dominique A; Huffaker, Thomas B et al. (2014) miR-155 promotes T follicular helper cell accumulation during chronic, low-grade inflammation. Immunity 41:605-19
Petersen, Charisse; Round, June L (2014) Defining dysbiosis and its influence on host immunity and disease. Cell Microbiol 16:1024-33
Kubinak, Jason L; Round, June L (2012) Toll-like receptors promote mutually beneficial commensal-host interactions. PLoS Pathog 8:e1002785