All Publications

  • Emergence of human CMV-induced NKG2C+ NK cells is associated with CD8+ T-cell recovery after allogeneic HCT. Blood advances van der Ploeg, K., Sottile, R., Kontopoulos, T., Shaffer, B. C., Papanicolaou, G. A., Maloy, M. A., Cho, C., Robinson, K. S., Perales, M., Le Luduec, J., Hsu, K. C. 2023; 7 (19): 5784-5798


    Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is associated with the expansion of a mature NKG2C+FcepsilonR1gamma- natural killer (NK) cell population. The exact mechanism underlying the emergence of NKG2C+ NK cells, however, remains unknown. Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) provides an opportunity to longitudinally study lymphocyte recovery in the setting of CMV reactivation, particularly in patients receiving T-cell-depleted (TCD) allografts. We analyzed peripheral blood lymphocytes from 119 patients at serial time points after infusion of their TCD allograft and compared immune recovery with that in samples obtained from recipients of T-cell-replete (T-replete) (n= 96) or double umbilical cord blood (DUCB) (n=52) allografts. NKG2C+ NK cells were detected in 92% (45 of 49) of recipients of TCD HCT who experienced CMV reactivation. Although NKG2A+ cells were routinely identifiable early after HCT, NKG2C+ NK cells were identified only after T cells could be detected. T-cell reconstitution occurred at variable times after HCT among patients and predominantly comprised CD8+ T cells. In patients with CMV reactivation, recipients of TCD HCT expressed significantly higher frequencies of NKG2C+ and CD56neg NK cells compared with patients who received T-replete HCT or DUCB transplantation. NKG2C+ NK cells after TCD HCT were CD57+FcepsilonR1gamma+ and degranulated significantly more in response to target cells compared with the adaptive the NKG2C+CD57+FcepsilonR1gamma- NK cell population. We conclude that the presence of circulating T cells is associated with the expansion of a CMV-induced NKG2C+ NK cell population, a potentially novel example of developmental cooperation between lymphocyte populations in response to viral infection.

    View details for DOI 10.1182/bloodadvances.2022008952

    View details for PubMedID 37196646

  • Malaria-specific Type 1 regulatory T cells are more abundant in first pregnancies and associated with placental malaria. EBioMedicine Kirosingh, A. S., Delmastro, A., Kakuru, A., van der Ploeg, K., Bhattacharya, S., Press, K. D., Ty, M., Parte, L., Kizza, J., Muhindo, M., Devachanne, S., Gamain, B., Nankya, F., Musinguzi, K., Rosenthal, P. J., Feeney, M. E., Kamya, M., Dorsey, G., Jagannathan, P. 2023; 95: 104772


    Malaria in pregnancy (MIP) causes higher morbidity in primigravid compared to multigravid women; however, the correlates and mechanisms underlying this gravidity-dependent protection remain incompletely understood. We aimed to compare the cellular immune response between primigravid and multigravid women living in a malaria-endemic region and assess for correlates of protection against MIP.We characterised the second trimester cellular immune response among 203 primigravid and multigravid pregnant women enrolled in two clinical trials of chemoprevention in eastern Uganda, utilizing RNA sequencing, flow cytometry, and functional assays. We compared responses across gravidity and determined associations with parasitaemia during pregnancy and placental malaria.Using whole blood RNA sequencing, no significant differentially expressed genes were identified between primigravid (n = 12) and multigravid (n = 11) women overall (log 2(FC) > 2, FDR < 0.1). However, primigravid (n = 49) women had higher percentages of malaria-specific, non-naïve CD4+ T cells that co-expressed IL-10 and IFNγ compared with multigravid (n = 85) women (p = 0.000023), and higher percentages of these CD4+ T cells were associated with greater risks of parasitaemia in pregnancy (Rs = 0.49, p = 0.001) and placental malaria (p = 0.0073). These IL-10 and IFNγ co-producing CD4+ T cells had a genomic signature of Tr1 cells, including expression of transcription factors cMAF and BATF and cell surface makers CTLA4 and LAG-3.Malaria-specific Tr1 cells were highly prevalent in primigravid Ugandan women, and their presence correlated with a higher risk of malaria in pregnancy. Understanding whether suppression of Tr1 cells plays a role in naturally acquired gravidity-dependent immunity may aid the development of new vaccines or treatments for MIP.This work was funded by NIH (PO1 HD059454, U01 AI141308, U19 AI089674, U01 AI155325, U01 AI150741), the March of Dimes (Basil O'Connor award), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (OPP 1113682).

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ebiom.2023.104772

    View details for PubMedID 37634385

  • Spheromers reveal robust T cell responses to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and attenuated peripheral CD8+ T cell responses post SARS-CoV-2 infection. Immunity Gao, F., Mallajoysula, V., Arunachalam, P. S., van der Ploeg, K., Manohar, M., Röltgen, K., Yang, F., Wirz, O., Hoh, R., Haraguchi, E., Lee, J. Y., Willis, R., Ramachandiran, V., Li, J., Kathuria, K. R., Li, C., Lee, A. S., Shah, M. M., Sindher, S. B., Gonzalez, J., Altman, J. D., Wang, T. T., Boyd, S. D., Pulendran, B., Jagannathan, P., Nadeau, K. C., Davis, M. M. 2023


    T cells are a critical component of the response to SARS-CoV-2, but their kinetics after infection and vaccination are insufficiently understood. Using "spheromer" peptide-MHC multimer reagents, we analyzed healthy subjects receiving two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccine. Vaccination resulted in robust spike-specific T cell responses for the dominant CD4+ (HLA-DRB1∗15:01/S191) and CD8+ (HLA-A∗02/S691) T cell epitopes. Antigen-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses were asynchronous, with the peak CD4+ T cell responses occurring 1 week post the second vaccination (boost), whereas CD8+ T cells peaked 2 weeks later. These peripheral T cell responses were elevated compared with COVID-19 patients. We also found that previous SARS-CoV-2 infection resulted in decreased CD8+ T cell activation and expansion, suggesting that previous infection can influence the T cell response to vaccination.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.immuni.2023.03.005

    View details for PubMedID 36996809

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10017386

  • Malaria-driven expansion of adaptive-like functional CD56-negative NK cells correlates with clinical immunity to malaria. Science translational medicine Ty, M., Sun, S., Callaway, P. C., Rek, J., Press, K. D., van der Ploeg, K., Nideffer, J., Hu, Z., Klemm, S., Greenleaf, W., Donato, M., Tukwasibwe, S., Arinaitwe, E., Nankya, F., Musinguzi, K., Andrew, D., de la Parte, L., Mori, D. M., Lewis, S. N., Takahashi, S., Rodriguez-Barraquer, I., Greenhouse, B., Blish, C., Utz, P. J., Khatri, P., Dorsey, G., Kamya, M., Boyle, M., Feeney, M., Ssewanyana, I., Jagannathan, P. 2023; 15 (680): eadd9012


    Natural killer (NK) cells likely play an important role in immunity to malaria, but the effect of repeated malaria on NK cell responses remains unclear. Here, we comprehensively profiled the NK cell response in a cohort of 264 Ugandan children. Repeated malaria exposure was associated with expansion of an atypical, CD56neg population of NK cells that differed transcriptionally, epigenetically, and phenotypically from CD56dim NK cells, including decreased expression of PLZF and the Fc receptor γ-chain, increased histone methylation, and increased protein expression of LAG-3, KIR, and LILRB1. CD56neg NK cells were highly functional and displayed greater antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity than CD56dim NK cells. Higher frequencies of CD56neg NK cells were associated with protection against symptomatic malaria and high parasite densities. After marked reductions in malaria transmission, frequencies of these cells rapidly declined, suggesting that continuous exposure to Plasmodium falciparum is required to maintain this modified, adaptive-like NK cell subset.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/scitranslmed.add9012

    View details for PubMedID 36696483

  • Early immune markers of clinical, virological, and immunological outcomes in patients with COVID-19: a multi-omics study. eLife Hu, Z., van der Ploeg, K., Chakraborty, S., Arunachalam, P. S., Mori, D. A., Jacobson, K. B., Bonilla, H., Parsonnet, J., Andrews, J. R., Holubar, M., Subramanian, A., Khosla, C., Maldonado, Y., Hedlin, H., de la Parte, L., Press, K., Ty, M., Tan, G. S., Blish, C., Takahashi, S., Rodriguez-Barraquer, I., Greenhouse, B., Butte, A. J., Singh, U., Pulendran, B., Wang, T. T., Jagannathan, P. 2022; 11


    The great majority of severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections are mild and uncomplicated, but some individuals with initially mild COVID-19 progressively develop more severe symptoms. Furthermore, there is substantial heterogeneity in SARS-CoV-2-specific memory immune responses following infection. There remains a critical need to identify host immune biomarkers predictive of clinical and immunological outcomes in SARS-CoV-2-infected patients.Leveraging longitudinal samples and data from a clinical trial (N=108) in SARS-CoV-2-infected outpatients, we used host proteomics and transcriptomics to characterize the trajectory of the immune response in COVID-19 patients. We characterized the association between early immune markers and subsequent disease progression, control of viral shedding, and SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell and antibody responses measured up to 7 months after enrollment. We further compared associations between early immune markers and subsequent T cell and antibody responses following natural infection with those following mRNA vaccination. We developed machine-learning models to predict patient outcomes and validated the predictive model using data from 54 individuals enrolled in an independent clinical trial.We identify early immune signatures, including plasma RIG-I levels, early IFN signaling, and related cytokines (CXCL10, MCP1, MCP-2, and MCP-3) associated with subsequent disease progression, control of viral shedding, and the SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell and antibody response measured up to 7 months after enrollment. We found that several biomarkers for immunological outcomes are shared between individuals receiving BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccine and COVID-19 patients. Finally, we demonstrate that machine-learning models using 2-7 plasma protein markers measured early within the course of infection are able to accurately predict disease progression, T cell memory, and the antibody response post-infection in a second, independent dataset.Early immune signatures following infection can accurately predict clinical and immunological outcomes in outpatients with COVID-19 using validated machine-learning models.Support for the study was provided from National Institute of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH/NIAID) (U01 AI150741-01S1 and T32-AI052073), the Stanford's Innovative Medicines Accelerator, National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH/NIDA) DP1DA046089, and anonymous donors to Stanford University. Peginterferon lambda provided by Eiger BioPharmaceuticals.

    View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.77943

    View details for PubMedID 36239699

  • TNF-alpha+ CD4+ Tcells dominate the SARS-CoV-2 specific T cell response in COVID-19 outpatients and are associated with durable antibodies. Cell reports. Medicine van der Ploeg, K., Kirosingh, A. S., Mori, D. A., Chakraborty, S., Hu, Z., Sievers, B. L., Jacobson, K. B., Bonilla, H., Parsonnet, J., Andrews, J. R., Press, K. D., Ty, M. C., Ruiz-Betancourt, D. R., de la Parte, L., Tan, G. S., Blish, C. A., Takahashi, S., Rodriguez-Barraquer, I., Greenhouse, B., Singh, U., Wang, T. T., Jagannathan, P. 2022: 100640


    Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-specific CD4+ Tcells are likely important in immunity against coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), but our understanding of CD4+ longitudinal dynamics following infection and of specific features that correlate with the maintenance of neutralizing antibodies remains limited. Here, we characterize SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ Tcells in a longitudinal cohort of 109 COVID-19 outpatients enrolled during acute infection. The quality of the SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ response shifts from cells producing interferon gamma (IFNgamma) to tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) from 5days to 4months post-enrollment, with IFNgamma-IL-21-TNF-alpha+ CD4+ Tcells the predominant population detected at later time points. Greater percentages of IFNgamma-IL-21-TNF-alpha+ CD4+ Tcells on day 28 correlate with SARS-CoV-2-neutralizing antibodies measured 7months post-infection (⍴= 0.4, p= 0.01). mRNA vaccination following SARS-CoV-2 infection boosts both IFNgamma- and TNF-alpha-producing, spike-protein-specific CD4+ Tcells. These data suggest that SARS-CoV-2-specific, TNF-alpha-producing CD4+ Tcells may play an important role in antibody maintenance following COVID-19.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.xcrm.2022.100640

    View details for PubMedID 35588734

  • HLA-A alleles influencing NK cell function impact AML relapse following allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation BLOOD ADVANCES van der Ploeg, K., Le Luduec, J., Stevenson, P. A., Park, S., Gooley, T. A., Petersdorf, E. W., Shaffer, B. C., Hsu, K. C. 2020; 4 (19): 4955-4964


    HLA-B allotypes exhibiting the Bw4 epitope trigger variable inhibitory signaling of KIR3DL1 receptor types, where strong inhibitory HLA-B and KIR3DL1 allele combinations are associated with increased risk for relapse of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) following allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). Several HLA-A allotypes also exhibit the Bw4 epitope. Studies with natural killer (NK) cell clones have demonstrated NK inhibition via KIR3DL1 by HLA-A Bw4+ allotypes, but did not delineate strengths of inhibition or hierarchies of NK education. Using primary NK cells from healthy donors, we demonstrate that HLA-A*23, HLA-A*24, and HLA-A*32 proteins are expressed at different densities and exhibit different capacities to educate and inhibit KIR3DL1-expressing NK cells in vitro. Among the HLA-A Bw4+ allotypes, HLA-A*24 and HLA-A*32 demonstrate the strongest inhibitory capacity. To determine if HLA-A allotypes with strong inhibitory capacity have similar negative impact in allogeneic HCT as HLA-B Bw4+ allotypes, we performed a retrospective analysis of 1729 patients with AML who received an allogeneic HCT from a 9/10 or 10/10 HLA allele-matched unrelated donor. Examination of the donor-recipient pairs whose Bw4 epitope was exclusively contributed from HLA-A*24 and A*32 allotypes revealed that patients with HLA-A*24 who received an allograft from a KIR3DL1+ donor experienced a higher risk of disease relapse (hazard ratio, 1.65; 95% confidence interval, 1.17-2.32; P = .004) when compared with patients without a Bw4 epitope. These findings indicate that despite weak affinity interactions with KIR3DL1, common HLA-A allotypes with the Bw4 epitope can interact with KIR3DL1+ donor NK cells with clinically meaningful impact and provide additional insight to donor NK alloreactivity in HLA-matched HCT.

    View details for DOI 10.1182/bloodadvances.2020002086

    View details for Web of Science ID 000581115700040

    View details for PubMedID 33049053

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7556125

  • Cytomegalovirus Infection Drives Avidity Selection of Natural Killer Cells IMMUNITY Adams, N. M., Geary, C. D., Santosa, E. K., Lumaquin, D., Le Luduec, J., Sottile, R., van der Ploeg, K., Hsu, J., Whitlock, B. M., Jackson, B. T., Weizman, O., Huse, M., Hsu, K. C., Sun, J. C. 2019; 50 (6): 1381-+


    The process of affinity maturation, whereby T and B cells bearing antigen receptors with optimal affinity to the relevant antigen undergo preferential expansion, is a key feature of adaptive immunity. Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphocytes capable of "adaptive" responses after cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. However, whether NK cells are similarly selected on the basis of their avidity for cognate ligand is unknown. Here, we showed that NK cells with the highest avidity for the mouse CMV glycoprotein m157 were preferentially selected to expand and comprise the memory NK cell pool, whereas low-avidity NK cells possessed greater capacity for interferon-γ (IFN-γ) production. Moreover, we provide evidence for avidity selection occurring in human NK cells during human CMV infection. These results delineate how heterogeneity in NK cell avidity diversifies NK cell effector function during antiviral immunity, and how avidity selection might serve to produce the most potent memory NK cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.immuni.2019.04.009

    View details for Web of Science ID 000471876100010

    View details for PubMedID 31103381

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6614060

  • Modulation of Human Leukocyte Antigen-C by Human Cytomegalovirus Stimulates KIR2DS1 Recognition by Natural Killer Cells FRONTIERS IN IMMUNOLOGY van der Ploeg, K., Chang, C., Ivarsson, M. A., Moffett, A., Wills, M. R., Trowsdale, J. 2017; 8: 298


    The interaction of inhibitory killer cell Ig-like receptors (KIRs) with human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules has been characterized in detail. By contrast, activating members of the KIR family, although closely related to inhibitory KIRs, appear to interact weakly, if at all, with HLA class I. KIR2DS1 is the best studied activating KIR and it interacts with C2 group HLA-C (C2-HLA-C) in some assays, but not as strongly as KIR2DL1. We used a mouse 2B4 cell reporter system, which carries NFAT-green fluorescent protein with KIR2DS1 and a modified DAP12 adaptor protein. KIR2DS1 reporter cells were not activated upon coculture with 721.221 cells transfected with different HLA-C molecules, or with interferon-γ stimulated primary dermal fibroblasts. However, KIR2DS1 reporter cells and KIR2DS1+ primary natural killer (NK) cells were activated by C2-HLA-C homozygous human fetal foreskin fibroblasts (HFFFs) but only after infection with specific clones of a clinical strain of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). Active viral gene expression was required for activation of both cell types. Primary NKG2A-KIR2DS1+ NK cell subsets degranulated after coculture with HCMV-infected HFFFs. The W6/32 antibody to HLA class I blocked the KIR2DS1 reporter cell interaction with its ligand on HCMV-infected HFFFs but did not block interaction with KIR2DL1. This implies a differential recognition of HLA-C by KIR2DL1 and KIR2DS1. The data suggest that modulation of HLA-C by HCMV is required for a potent KIR2DS1-mediated NK cell activation.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00298

    View details for Web of Science ID 000397490800001

    View details for PubMedID 28424684

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5372792

  • Membrane lipid saturation activates endoplasmic reticulum unfolded protein response transducers through their transmembrane domains PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Volmer, R., van der Ploeg, K., Ron, D. 2013; 110 (12): 4628-4633


    Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress sensors use a related luminal domain to monitor the unfolded protein load and convey the signal to downstream effectors, signaling an unfolded protein response (UPR) that maintains compartment-specific protein folding homeostasis. Surprisingly, perturbation of cellular lipid composition also activates the UPR, with important consequences in obesity and diabetes. However, it is unclear if direct sensing of the lipid perturbation contributes to UPR activation. We found that mutant mammalian ER stress sensors, IRE1α and PERK, lacking their luminal unfolded protein stress-sensing domain, nonetheless retained responsiveness to increased lipid saturation. Lipid saturation-mediated activation in cells required an ER-spanning transmembrane domain and was positively regulated in vitro by acyl-chain saturation in reconstituted liposomes. These observations suggest that direct sensing of the lipid composition of the ER membrane contributes to the UPR.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1217611110

    View details for Web of Science ID 000317521600051

    View details for PubMedID 23487760

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3606975