Our goal is to define how pro-inflammatory cytokines and factors derived from toll-like receptor (TLR) stimulation impact specific CD4 T cell immunity in vivo. Characterizing this process will improve adjuvant development by defining new methods to control in vivo T cell responses while minimizing toxicity. This goal is based on our recent work which unveiled an unexpected division of labor between the TLR4 adaptors. One path signaled T cell effector differentiation and homing to solid organs, and the other path was responsible for clonal expansion and inducing cell survival. Therefore, uncovering how the adjuvant response emanating from the TLR4 pathway affects T cell behavior will allow vaccinologists to push desirable effects on Ag-specific CD4 T cells. This goal will be accomplished in 3 specific aims by determining the mechanism of how each adaptor impacts T cells.
In Aim 1 we will determine how TRIF controls T cell effector differentiation and homing by examining an innate cytokine axis that we hypothesize potentiates both cell behaviors. Data from this aim will help design vaccine formulations that will aid in driving effector T cell migration to specific sites of the body.
In Aim 2 a proteomic map of specific CD4 T cells destined to survive will be captured and contrasted to the same specific T cells programmed to die. We will accomplish this goal using an innovative liquid fractionation approach that will permit us to mine the proteome for differential changes between these populations.
Aim 3 will capitalize on our novel finding demonstrating that Ag-experienced CD4 T cells can facilitate adjuvant toxicity. We will define this process and develop new approaches to counter toxicity while promoting strong adjuvant responses. Thus, the results from this proposal will provide an """"""""adjuvant to toxicity"""""""" ratio that can be used to gauge the effectiveness and safety of TLR agonists, and importantly provide an evidence-based approach to designing adjuvant therapeutics.

Public Health Relevance

CD4 T cells play a crucial in the immune response against pathogens, tumors and environmental factors. They interact with the innate immune system to modulate immune responses and our studies will examine new ways to modify T cell responses in a beneficial manner for biomedical therapy. Our goal is to uncover ways that innate and adaptive immune cells can be induced to fortify vaccines while minimizing toxicity and how they can be used to control infectious disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Immunity and Host Defense Study Section (IHD)
Program Officer
Leitner, Wolfgang W
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Connecticut
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Liu, Wenhai; Menoret, Antoine; Vella, Anthony T (2017) Responses to LPS boost effector CD8 T-cell accumulation outside of signals 1 and 2. Cell Mol Immunol 14:254-253
Tsurutani, Naomi; Mittal, Payal; St Rose, Marie-Clare et al. (2016) Costimulation Endows Immunotherapeutic CD8 T Cells with IL-36 Responsiveness during Aerobic Glycolysis. J Immunol 196:124-34
Ménoret, Antoine; Svedova, Julia; Behl, Bharat et al. (2015) Trace Levels of Staphylococcal Enterotoxin Bioactivity Are Concealed in a Mucosal Niche during Pulmonary Inflammation. PLoS One 10:e0141548
Wright, Kyle T; Giardina, Charles; Vella, Anthony T (2014) Therapeutic targeting of the inflammome. Biochem Pharmacol 92:184-91
Wright, Kyle T; Vella, Anthony T (2013) RKIP contributes to IFN-? synthesis by CD8+ T cells after serial TCR triggering in systemic inflammatory response syndrome. J Immunol 191:708-16
Adler, Adam J; Vella, Anthony T (2013) Striving for synergy: how to improve cancer immunotherapy through multiple agonist costimulation. Immunotherapy 5:1271-3
Kumar, S; Colpitts, S L; Ménoret, A et al. (2013) Rapid ?? T-cell responses orchestrate innate immunity in response to Staphylococcal enterotoxin A. Mucosal Immunol 6:1006-15
Blair, David A; Turner, Damian L; Bose, Tina O et al. (2011) Duration of antigen availability influences the expansion and memory differentiation of T cells. J Immunol 187:2310-21
McAleer, Jeremy P; Saris, Christiaan J M; Vella, Anthony T (2011) The WSX-1 pathway restrains intestinal T-cell immunity. Int Immunol 23:129-37
McAleer, Jeremy P; Liu, Bei; Li, Zihai et al. (2010) Potent intestinal Th17 priming through peripheral lipopolysaccharide-based immunization. J Leukoc Biol 88:21-31

Showing the most recent 10 out of 21 publications