B.A., St. Mary’s University, 1995
Ph.D., University of Missouri, 2000
phone: (336) 716-0966
My laboratory is interested in understanding how B lymphocytes are regulated to produce antibodies. We are particularly interested in determining how antibody responses to carbohydrate antigens are controlled. Antibody responses to carbohydrate antigens are important for many aspects of human health and disease. While carbohydrate-based vaccines have long been limited to polysaccharides isolated from pathogenic encapsulated extracellular bacteria (ie., Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae), there is currently intense interest in developing carbohydrate-based vaccines for inducing antibodies directed at additional types of bacteria, parasites, fungi, viruses, and even aberrantly glycosylated tumor cells. Indeed, we are currently using several diverse in vivo model systems including Streptococcus pneumoniae infection and adenocarcinoma tumor models to test the protective nature of anti-carbohydrate antibodies.
Antibody responses to carbohydrate antigens often proceed in the absence of T cell help, and are thus referred to as T cell independent (TI) antibody responses. A growing body of evidence supports the concept that TI antibody responses are regulated in a manner that is distinct from T cell dependent (TD; typically protein) antibody responses. In addition to the altered role for T cells in TI antibody responses, the distinct regulation of TI versus TD antibody responses may be explained by the contribution unique B cell subpopulations make to these responses. B-1b cells represent a key B cell subset recently identified to play a major role in TI antibody responses. We are therefore interested in understanding the factors involved in regulating B-1b cell activation, proliferation, isotype switching, and differentiation into antibody secreting cells following encounter with carbohydrate antigens. Ultimately, our goal is to develop an understanding of how anti-carbohydrate antibody responses can be enhanced to provide optimal protection against disease causing agents.