Department of Microbiology Papers

Research in the Penn Microbiology Department focuses on infectious agents that threaten global health, with an emphasis on understanding molecular mechanisms and developing key new methods. Areas of focus include pathogenic bacteria of the airway and gut, HIV/AIDS, insect- and rodent-borne viruses, herpes viruses, papillomaviruses, emerging infectious diseases and the human microbiome. On the host side, faculty study many areas of immunology related to infection, including innate and adaptive immunity, tumor immunology and vaccine development.




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Now showing 1 - 8 of 8
  • Publication
    The D0 Domain of KIR3D Acts as a Major Histocompatibility Complex Class I Binding Enhancer
    (2002-10-07) Khakoo, Salim I; Geller, Ron; Shin, Sunny; Jenkins, Jomaquai A; Parham, Peter
    In contrast to the KIR2D:HLA-C interaction, little is known of KIR3DL1's interaction with HLA-B or the role of D0, the domain not present in KIR2D. Differences in the strength and specificity for major histocompatibility complex class I of KIR3DL1 and its common chimpanzee homologue Pt-KIR3DL1/2 were exploited to address these questions. Domain-swap, deletion, and site-directed mutants of KIR3DL1 were analyzed for HLA-B binding using a novel, positively signaling cell–cell binding assay. Natural ‘deletion’ of residues 50 and 51 from its D0 domain causes Pt-KIR3DL1/2 to bind Bw4+ HLA-B allotypes more avidly than does KIR3DL1. Deletion of these residues from KIR3DL1, or their substitution for alanine, enhanced binding of Bw4+ HLA-B. None of 15 different point mutations in D0 abrogated KIR3DL1 binding to Bw4+ HLA-B. In contrast point mutations in the D1 and D2 domains of KIR3DL1, made from knowledge of KIR2D:HLA-C interactions, disrupted binding to Bw4+ HLA-B. The results are consistent with a model in which D1 and D2 make the principal contacts between KIR3DL1 and HLA-B while D0 acts through a different mechanism to enhance the interaction. This modulatory role for D0 is compatible with natural loss of expression of the D0 domain, a repeated event in the evolution of functional KIR genes.
  • Publication
    Type IV Secretion-Dependent Activation of Host MAP Kinases Induces an Increased Proinflammatory Cytokine Response to Legionella pneumophila
    (2008-11-28) Shin, Sunny; Case, Christopher L; Archer, Kristina A; Nogueira, Catarina V; Kobayashi, Koichi S; Flavell, Richard A; Roy, Craig R; Zamboni, Dario S
    The immune system must discriminate between pathogenic and nonpathogenic microbes in order to initiate an appropriate response. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) detect microbial components common to both pathogenic and nonpathogenic bacteria, whereas Nod-like receptors (NLRs) sense microbial components introduced into the host cytosol by the specialized secretion systems or pore-forming toxins of bacterial pathogens. The host signaling pathways that respond to bacterial secretion systems remain poorly understood. Infection with the pathogen Legionella pneumophila, which utilizes a type IV secretion system (T4SS), induced an increased proinflammatory cytokine response compared to avirulent bacteria in which the T4SS was inactivated. This enhanced response involved NF-κB activation by TLR signaling as well as Nod1 and Nod2 detection of type IV secretion. Furthermore, a TLR- and RIP2-independent pathway leading to p38 and SAPK/JNK MAPK activation was found to play an equally important role in the host response to virulent L. pneumophila. Activation of this MAPK pathway was T4SS-dependent and coordinated with TLR signaling to mount a robust proinflammatory cytokine response to virulent L. pneumophila. These findings define a previously uncharacterized host response to bacterial type IV secretion that activates MAPK signaling and demonstrate that coincident detection of multiple bacterial components enables immune discrimination between virulent and avirulent bacteria.
  • Publication
    Dissection of a Type I Interferon Pathway in Controlling Bacterial Intracellular Infection in Mice
    (2011-11-01) Lippmann, Juliane; Müller, Holger; Naujoks, Jan; Tabeling, Christoph; Shin, Sunny; Witzenrath, Martin; Hellwig, Katharina; Kirschning, Carsten J; Taylor, Gregory A; Barchet, Winfried; Bauer, Stefan; Suttorp, Norbert; Roy, Craig A; Opitz, Bastian
    Defense mechanisms against intracellular bacterial pathogens are incompletely understood. Our study characterizes a type I IFN-dependent cell-autonomous defense pathway directed against Legionella pneumophila, an intracellular model organism and frequent cause of pneumonia. We show that macrophages infected with L. pneumophila produced IFNβ in a STING- and IRF3- dependent manner. Paracrine type I IFNs stimulated up-regulation of IFN-stimulated genes and a cell-autonomous defense pathway acting on replicating and non-replicating Legionella within their specialized vacuole. Our infection experiments in mice lacking receptors for type I and/or II IFNs show that type I IFNs contribute to expression of IFN-stimulated genes and to bacterial clearance as well as resistance in L. pneumophila pneumonia in addition to type II IFN. Overall, our study shows that paracrine type I IFNs mediate defense against L. pneumophila, and demonstrates a protective role of type I IFNs in in vivo infections with intracellular bacteria.
  • Publication
    Genetic Analysis of Human Immunodefiency Virus Type I Strains in Kenya: A Comparison Using Phylogenetic Analysis and a Combinatorial Melting Assay
    (1999-11-04) Robbins, Kenneth E; Kostrikis, Leondios G; Brown, Teresa M; Anzala, Omu; Shin, Sunny; Plummer, Francis A; Kalish, Marcia L
    We surveyed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) subtype distribution from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) collected in 1995 from 24 HIV-1-infected Kenyan residents (specimens from predominantly male truck drivers and female sex workers near Mombasa and Nairobi). Processed lysates from the PBMC samples were used for env amplification, directly sequenced, and analyzed by phylogenetic analysis. Envelope amplification products were also used for analysis in a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assay, called the combinatorial melting assay (COMA). Results of the two tests were compared for assignment of subtype for this Kenyan cohort. The COMA, a PCR capture technique with colorimetric signal detection, was used with HIV reference subtype strains as well as regional (East Africa) HIV strains for subtype identification. Performance of the COMA was at 100% concordance (24 of 24) as compared with DNA sequencing analysis. Phylogenetic analysis showed 17 isolates to be subtype A, 3 subtype D, and 4 subtype C viruses. This may represent an increase in subtype C presence in Kenya compared with previously documented reports. The COMA can offer advantages for rapid HIV-1 subtype screening of large populations, with the use of previously identified regional strains to enhance the identification of local strains. When more detailed genetic information is desired, DNA sequencing and analysis may be required.
  • Publication
    Caspase-11 Activation in Response to Bacterial Secretion Systems That Access the Host Cytosol
    (2013-06-06) Casson, Cierra N; Copenhaver, Alan M; Zwack, Erin E; Nguyen, Hieu T; Strowig, Till; Javdan, Bahar; Bradley, William P; Fung, Thomas C; Flavell, Richard A; Brodsky, Igor E; Shin, Sunny
    Inflammasome activation is important for antimicrobial defense because it induces cell death and regulates the secretion of IL-1 family cytokines, which play a critical role in inflammatory responses. The inflammasome activates caspase-1 to process and secrete IL-1β. However, the mechanisms governing IL-1α release are less clear. Recently, a non-canonical inflammasome was described that activates caspase-11 and mediates pyroptosis and release of IL-1α and IL-1β. Caspase-11 activation in response to Gram-negative bacteria requires Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and TIR-domain-containing adaptor-inducing interferon-β (TRIF)-dependent interferon production. Whether additional bacterial signals trigger caspase-11 activation is unknown. Many bacterial pathogens use specialized secretion systems to translocate effector proteins into the cytosol of host cells. These secretion systems can also deliver flagellin into the cytosol, which triggers caspase-1 activation and pyroptosis. However, even in the absence of flagellin, these secretion systems induce inflammasome activation and the release of IL-1α and IL-1β, but the inflammasome pathways that mediate this response are unclear. We observe rapid IL-1α and IL-1β release and cell death in response to the type IV or type III secretion systems of Legionella pneumophila and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Unlike IL-1β, IL-1α secretion does not require caspase-1. Instead, caspase-11 activation is required for both IL-1α secretion and cell death in response to the activity of these secretion systems. Interestingly, whereas caspase-11 promotes IL-1β release in response to the type IV secretion system through the NLRP3/ASC inflammasome, caspase-11-dependent release of IL-1α is independent of both the NAIP5/NLRC4 and NLRP3/ASC inflammasomes as well as TRIF and type I interferon signaling. Furthermore, we find both overlapping and non-redundant roles for IL-1α and IL-1β in mediating neutrophil recruitment and bacterial clearance in response to pulmonary infection by L. pneumophila. Our findings demonstrate that virulent, but not avirulent, bacteria trigger a rapid caspase-11-dependent innate immune response important for host defense.
  • Publication
    Thymic Selection Determines γδ T Cell Effector Fate: Antigen-Naive Cells Make Interleukin-17 and Antigen-Experienced Cells Make Interferon γ
    (2008-07-01) Jensen, Kirk D. C; Su, Xiaoqin; Shin, Sunny; Li, Luke; Youssef, Sawsan; Yamasaki, Sho; Steinman, Lawrence; Saito, Takashi; Locksley, Richard M; Davis, Mark M; Baumgarth, Nicole; Chien, Yueh-hsiu
    γδ T cells contribute uniquely to host immune competence, but how they do so remain unclear. Here, by analyzing T10/T22-specific γδ T cells in mice with different T10/T22 expression patterns, we find that encountering antigen in the thymus is neither required nor inhibitory for the development of these cells. Instead, ligand recognition determines which of two distinct functional subsets γδ T cells will become. When triggered through the TCR, lymphoid-γδ T cells that encounter ligand during development produce IFNγ, while those that develop in the absence of ligand make IL-17, a major inducer of granulopoiesis during inflammation. Indeed, we find large fractions of IL-17+ γδ T cells from the draining lymph nodes immediately after peptide/CFA immunization and days before the appearance of antigen specific IL-17+ αβ T cells. This suggests a critical role for γδ T cells as ‘initial providers’ of IL-17 in an inflammatory response to novel antigens.
  • Publication
    An Autonomous CDR3δ is Sufficient for γδ T Cell Recognition of the Nonclassical MHC-I T10/T22
    (2008-07-01) Adams, Erin J; Strop, Pavel; Shin, Sunny; Chien, Yueh-Hsiu; Garcia, K. Christopher
    It remains unclear whether γδ T cell receptors (TCRs) detect antigens in a manner similar to antibodies or αβ TCRs. Here we show that reactivity between G8 and KN6 γδ TCRs and the MHC class Ib molecule T22 can be transplanted, with retention of wild-type ligand affinity, after en bloc grafting of G8 and KN6 CDR3δ loops in place onto the CDR3α loop of an αβ TCR. We also find that a shared sequence motif within CDR3δ loops of all T22-reactive γδ TCRs binds T22 in energetically distinct fashions, and that T10d, which binds G8 with weak affinity, is converted into a high-affinity ligand by a single point mutation. These results demonstrate an unprecedented autonomy of a single CDR3 loop in antigen recognition.
  • Publication
    Rapid Pathogen-Induced Apoptosis: A Mechanism Used by Dendritic Cells to Limit Intracellular Replication of Legionella Pneumophila
    (2009-06-12) Nogueira, Catarina V; Lindsten, Tullia; Jamieson, Amanda M; Case, Christopher L; Shin, Sunny; Thompson, Craig B; Roy, Craig R
    Dendritic cells (DCs) are specialized phagocytes that internalize exogenous antigens and microbes at peripheral sites, and then migrate to lymphatic organs to display foreign peptides to naïve T cells. There are several examples where DCs have been shown to be more efficient at restricting the intracellular replication of pathogens compared to macrophages, a property that could prevent DCs from enhancing pathogen dissemination. To understand DC responses to pathogens, we investigated the mechanisms by which mouse DCs are able to restrict replication of the intracellular pathogen Legionella pneumophila. We show that both DCs and macrophages have the ability to interfere with L. pneumophila replication through a cell death pathway mediated by caspase-1 and Naip5. L. pneumophila that avoided Naip5-dependent responses, however, showed robust replication in macrophages but remained unable to replicate in DCs. Apoptotic cell death mediated by caspase-3 was found to occur much earlier in DCs following infection by L. pneumophila compared to macrophages infected similarly. Eliminating the pro-apoptotic proteins Bax and Bak or overproducing the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 were both found to restore L. pneumophila replication in DCs. Thus, DCs have a microbial response pathway that rapidly activates apoptosis to limit pathogen replication.