Professional Education


  • PhD, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, Biological sciences, Biotechnology (2022)
  • MSc, Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, Poland, Medical biotechnology (2014)
  • BSc, Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, Poland, Medical biotechnology (2012)

Stanford Advisors


Lab Affiliations


All Publications


  • Dysregulated Interferon Response and Immune Hyperactivation in Severe COVID-19: Targeting STATs as a Novel Therapeutic Strategy FRONTIERS IN IMMUNOLOGY Eskandarian Boroujeni, M., Sekrecka, A., Antonczyk, A., Hassani, S., Sekrecki, M., Nowicka, H., Lopacinska, N., Olya, A., Kluzek, K., Wesoly, J., Bluyssen, H. R. 2022; 13: 888897

    Abstract

    A disease outbreak in December 2019, caused by a novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, was named COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 infects cells from the upper and lower respiratory tract system and is transmitted by inhalation or contact with infected droplets. Common clinical symptoms include fatigue, fever, and cough, but also shortness of breath and lung abnormalities. Still, some 5% of SARS-CoV-2 infections progress to severe pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), with pulmonary edema, acute kidney injury, and/or multiple organ failure as important consequences, which can lead to death. The innate immune system recognizes viral RNAs and triggers the expression of interferons (IFN). IFNs activate anti-viral effectors and components of the adaptive immune system by activating members of the STAT and IRF families that induce the expression of IFN-stimulated genes (ISG)s. Among other coronaviruses, such as Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and SARS-CoV, common strategies have been identified to antagonize IFN signaling. This typically coincides with hyperactive inflammatory host responses known as the "cytokine storm" that mediate severe lung damage. Likewise, SARS-CoV-2 infection combines a dysregulated IFN response with excessive production of inflammatory cytokines in the lungs. This excessive inflammatory response in the lungs is associated with the local recruitment of immune cells that create a pathogenic inflammatory loop. Together, it causes severe lung pathology, including ARDS, as well as damage to other vulnerable organs, like the heart, spleen, lymph nodes, and kidney, as well as the brain. This can rapidly progress to multiple organ exhaustion and correlates with a poor prognosis in COVID-19 patients. In this review, we focus on the crucial role of different types of IFN that underlies the progression of SARS-CoV-2 infection and leads to immune cell hyper-activation in the lungs, exuberant systemic inflammation, and multiple organ damage. Consequently, to protect from systemic inflammation, it will be critical to interfere with signaling cascades activated by IFNs and other inflammatory cytokines. Targeting members of the STAT family could therefore be proposed as a novel therapeutic strategy in patients with severe COVID-19.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fimmu.2022.888897

    View details for Web of Science ID 000805937300001

    View details for PubMedID 35663932

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9156796

  • Direct Inhibition of IRF-Dependent Transcriptional Regulatory Mechanisms Associated With Disease FRONTIERS IN IMMUNOLOGY Antonczyk, A., Krist, B., Sajek, M., Michalska, A., Piaszyk-Borychowska, A., Plens-Galaska, M., Wesoly, J., Bluyssen, H. R. 2019; 10: 1176

    Abstract

    Interferon regulatory factors (IRFs) are a family of homologous proteins that regulate the transcription of interferons (IFNs) and IFN-induced gene expression. As such they are important modulating proteins in the Toll-like receptor (TLR) and IFN signaling pathways, which are vital elements of the innate immune system. IRFs have a multi-domain structure, with the N-terminal part acting as a DNA binding domain (DBD) that recognizes a DNA-binding motif similar to the IFN-stimulated response element (ISRE). The C-terminal part contains the IRF-association domain (IAD), with which they can self-associate, bind to IRF family members or interact with other transcription factors. This complex formation is crucial for DNA binding and the commencing of target-gene expression. IRFs bind DNA and exert their activating potential as homo or heterodimers with other IRFs. Moreover, they can form complexes (e.g., with Signal transducers and activators of transcription, STATs) and collaborate with other co-acting transcription factors such as Nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) and PU.1. In time, more of these IRF co-activating mechanisms have been discovered, which may play a key role in the pathogenesis of many diseases, such as acute and chronic inflammation, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. Detailed knowledge of IRFs structure and activating mechanisms predisposes IRFs as potential targets for inhibition in therapeutic strategies connected to numerous immune system-originated diseases. Until now only indirect IRF modulation has been studied in terms of antiviral response regulation and cancer treatment, using mainly antisense oligonucleotides and siRNA knockdown strategies. However, none of these approaches so far entered clinical trials. Moreover, no direct IRF-inhibitory strategies have been reported. In this review, we summarize current knowledge of the different IRF-mediated transcriptional regulatory mechanisms and how they reflect the diverse functions of IRFs in homeostasis and in TLR and IFN signaling. Moreover, we present IRFs as promising inhibitory targets and propose a novel direct IRF-modulating strategy employing a pipeline approach that combines comparative in silico docking to the IRF-DBD with in vitro validation of IRF inhibition. We hypothesize that our methodology will enable the efficient identification of IRF-specific and pan-IRF inhibitors that can be used for the treatment of IRF-dependent disorders and malignancies.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01176

    View details for Web of Science ID 000468935400001

    View details for PubMedID 31178872

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6543449

  • A Positive Feedback Amplifier Circuit That Regulates Interferon (IFN)-Stimulated Gene Expression and Controls Type I and type II IFN Responses FRONTIERS IN IMMUNOLOGY Michalska, A., Blaszczyk, K., Wesoly, J., Bluyssen, H. R. 2018; 9: 1135

    Abstract

    Interferon (IFN)-I and IFN-II both induce IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) expression through Janus kinase (JAK)-dependent phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 1 and STAT2. STAT1 homodimers, known as γ-activated factor (GAF), activate transcription in response to all types of IFNs by direct binding to IFN-II activation site (γ-activated sequence)-containing genes. Association of interferon regulatory factor (IRF) 9 with STAT1-STAT2 heterodimers [known as interferon-stimulated gene factor 3 (ISGF3)] or with STAT2 homodimers (STAT2/IRF9) in response to IFN-I, redirects these complexes to a distinct group of target genes harboring the interferon-stimulated response element (ISRE). Similarly, IRF1 regulates expression of ISGs in response to IFN-I and IFN-II by directly binding the ISRE or IRF-responsive element. In addition, evidence is accumulating for an IFN-independent and -dependent role of unphosphorylated STAT1 and STAT2, with or without IRF9, and IRF1 in basal as well as long-term ISG expression. This review provides insight into the existence of an intracellular amplifier circuit regulating ISG expression and controlling long-term cellular responsiveness to IFN-I and IFN-II. The exact timely steps that take place during IFN-activated feedback regulation and the control of ISG transcription and long-term cellular responsiveness to IFN-I and IFN-II is currently not clear. Based on existing literature and our novel data, we predict the existence of a multifaceted intracellular amplifier circuit that depends on unphosphorylated and phosphorylated ISGF3 and GAF complexes and IRF1. In a combinatorial and timely fashion, these complexes mediate prolonged ISG expression and control cellular responsiveness to IFN-I and IFN-II. This proposed intracellular amplifier circuit also provides a molecular explanation for the existing overlap between IFN-I and IFN-II activated ISG expression.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fimmu.2018.01135

    View details for Web of Science ID 000433199400001

    View details for PubMedID 29892288

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5985295