All Publications

  • The AKT kinase signaling network is rewired by PTEN to control proximal BCR signaling in germinal center B cells. Nature immunology Luo, W., Hawse, W., Conter, L., Trivedi, N., Weisel, F., Wikenheiser, D., Cattley, R. T., Shlomchik, M. J. 2019


    B cell antigen receptor (BCR) and CD40 signaling are rewired in germinal center (GC) B cells (GCBCs) to optimize selection for high-affinity B cells. In GCBC, BCR signals are constrained, but the mechanisms are not well understood. Here we describe a GC-specific, AKT-kinase-driven negative feedback loop that attenuates BCR signaling. Mass spectrometry revealed that AKT target activity was altered in GCBCs compared with naive B cells. Retargeting was linked to differential AKT T308 and S473 phosphorylation, in turn controlled by GC-specific upregulation of phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase PDK1 and the phosphatase PTEN. In GCBCs, AKT preferentially targeted CSK, SHP-1 and HPK1, which are negative regulators of BCR signaling. We found that phosphorylation enhances enzymatic activity of these proteins, creating a negative feedback loop that dampens upstream BCR signaling. AKT inhibition relieved this negative feedback and enhanced activation of BCR-proximal kinase LYN, as well as downstream BCR signaling molecules in GCBCs.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41590-019-0376-3

    View details for PubMedID 31011187

  • B Cell Receptor and CD40 Signaling Are Rewired for Synergistic Induction of the c-Myc Transcription Factor in Germinal Center B Cells. Immunity Luo, W., Weisel, F., Shlomchik, M. J. 2018; 48 (2): 313–26.e5


    Positive selection of germinal center (GC) B cells is driven by B cell receptor (BCR) affinity and requires help from follicular T helper cells. The transcription factors c-Myc and Foxo1 are critical for GC B cell selection and survival. However, how different affinity-related signaling events control these transcription factors in a manner that links to selection is unknown. Here we showed that GC B cells reprogram CD40 and BCR signaling to transduce via NF-κB and Foxo1, respectively, whereas naive B cells propagate both signals downstream of either receptor. Although either BCR or CD40 ligation induced c-Myc in naive B cells, both signals were required to highly induce c-Myc, a critical mediator of GC B cell survival and cell cycle reentry. Thus, GC B cells rewire their signaling to enhance selection stringency via a requirement for both antigen receptor- and T cell-mediated signals to induce mediators of positive selection.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.immuni.2018.01.008

    View details for PubMedID 29396161

  • A Balance between B Cell Receptor and Inhibitory Receptor Signaling Controls Plasma Cell Differentiation by Maintaining Optimal Ets1 Levels. Journal of immunology Luo, W., Mayeux, J., Gutierrez, T., Russell, L., Getahun, A., Müller, J., Tedder, T., Parnes, J., Rickert, R., Nitschke, L., Cambier, J., Satterthwaite, A. B., Garrett-Sinha, L. A. 2014; 193 (2): 909-920


    Signaling through the BCR can drive B cell activation and contribute to B cell differentiation into Ab-secreting plasma cells. The positive BCR signal is counterbalanced by a number of membrane-localized inhibitory receptors that limit B cell activation and plasma cell differentiation. Deficiencies in these negative signaling pathways may cause autoantibody generation and autoimmune disease in both animal models and human patients. We have previously shown that the transcription factor Ets1 can restrain B cell differentiation into plasma cells. In this study, we tested the roles of the BCR and inhibitory receptors in controlling the expression of Ets1 in mouse B cells. We found that Ets1 is downregulated in B cells by BCR or TLR signaling through a pathway dependent on PI3K, Btk, IKK2, and JNK. Deficiencies in inhibitory pathways, such as a loss of the tyrosine kinase Lyn, the phosphatase Src homology region 2 domain-containing phosphatase 1 (SHP1) or membrane receptors CD22 and/or Siglec-G, result in enhanced BCR signaling and decreased Ets1 expression. Restoring Ets1 expression in Lyn- or SHP1-deficient B cells inhibits their enhanced plasma cell differentiation. Our findings indicate that downregulation of Ets1 occurs in response to B cell activation via either BCR or TLR signaling, thereby allowing B cell differentiation and that the maintenance of Ets1 expression is an important function of the inhibitory Lyn → CD22/SiglecG → SHP1 pathway in B cells.

    View details for DOI 10.4049/jimmunol.1400666

    View details for PubMedID 24929000

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4082765

  • Linking signaling and selection in the germinal center IMMUNOLOGICAL REVIEWS Shlomchik, M. J., Luo, W., Weisel, F. 2019; 288 (1): 49–63


    Germinal centers (GC) are sites of rapid B-cell proliferation in response to certain types of immunization. They arise in about 1 week and can persist for several months. In GCs, B cells differentiate in a unique way and begin to undergo somatic mutation of the Ig V regions at a high rate. GC B cells (GCBC) thus undergo clonal diversification that can affect the affinity of the newly mutant B-cell receptor (BCR) for its driving antigen. Through processes that are still poorly understood, GCBC with higher affinity are selectively expanded while those with mutations that inactivate the BCR are lost. In addition, at various times during the extended GC reaction, some GCBC undergo differentiation into either long-lived memory B cells (MBC) or plasma cells. The cellular and molecular signals that govern these fate decisions are not well-understood, but are an active area of research in multiple laboratories. In this review, we cover both the history of this field and focus on recent work that has helped to elucidate the signals and molecules, such as key transcription factors, that coordinate both positive selection as well as differentiation of GCBC.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/imr.12744

    View details for Web of Science ID 000461827300005

    View details for PubMedID 30874353

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6422174

  • B Cell Competition for Restricted T Cell Help Suppresses Rare-Epitope Responses CELL REPORTS Woodruff, M., Kim, E., Luo, W., Pulendran, B. 2018; 25 (2): 321-+


    The immune system responds preferentially to particular antigenic-epitopes contained within complex immunogens, such as proteins or microbes. This poorly understood phenomenon, termed "immunodominance," remains an obstacle to achieving polyvalent immune responses against multiple antigenic-epitopes through vaccination. We observed profound suppression in the hapten-specific antibody response in mice immunized with hapten-protein conjugate, mixed with an excess of protein, relative to that in mice immunized with hapten-protein alone. The suppression was robust (100-fold and 10-fold with a 10- or 2-fold excess of protein, respectively), stable over a 6-log range in antigen dose, observed within 10 days of vaccination, and resistant to boosting and adjuvants. Furthermore, there were reduced frequencies of antigen-specific germinal-center B cells and long-lived bone-marrow plasma cells. The mechanism of this "antigen-competition" was mediated largely by early access to T-helper cells. These results offer mechanistic insights into B cell competition during an immune response and suggest vaccination strategies against HIV, influenza, and dengue.

    View details for PubMedID 30304673

  • Synergistic effects of the combination of Endostar and radiotherapy against hepatocellular carcinoma in a mouse model INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL MEDICINE Feng, J., Luo, W., Qin, S., Wu, Q., Wang, X., Yin, X., Sun, X., Qu, W., Ye, Q. 2017; 10 (7): 10066-+
  • Delta Np63 regulates IL-33 and IL-31 signaling in atopic dermatitis CELL DEATH AND DIFFERENTIATION Rizzo, J. M., Oyelakin, A., Min, S., Smalley, K., Bard, J., Luo, W., Nyquist, J., Guttman-Yassky, E., Yoshida, T., De Benedetto, A., Beck, L. A., Sinha, S., Romano, R. 2016; 23 (6): 1073–85


    Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common inflammatory skin disease with no well-delineated cause or effective cure. Here we show that the p53 family member p63, specifically the ΔNp63, isoform has a key role in driving keratinocyte activation in AD. We find that overexpression of ΔNp63 in transgenic mouse epidermis results in a severe skin phenotype that shares many of the key clinical, histological and molecular features associated with human AD. This includes pruritus, epidermal hyperplasia, aberrant keratinocyte differentiation, enhanced expression of selected cytokines and chemokines and the infiltration of large numbers of inflammatory cells including type 2  T-helper cells - features that are highly representative of AD dermatopathology. We further demonstrate several of these mediators to be direct transcriptional targets of ΔNp63 in keratinocytes. Of particular significance are two p63 target genes, IL-31 and IL-33, both of which are key players in the signaling pathways implicated in AD. Importantly, we find these observations to be in good agreement with elevated levels of ΔNp63 in skin lesions of human patients with AD. Our studies reveal an important role for ΔNp63 in the pathogenesis of AD and offer new insights into its etiology and possible therapeutic targets.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/cdd.2015.162

    View details for Web of Science ID 000375710000016

    View details for PubMedID 26768665

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4987726

  • Requirement for Transcription Factor Ets1 in B Cell Tolerance to Self-Antigens JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY Russell, L., John, S., Cullen, J., Luo, W., Shlomchik, M. J., Garrett-Sinha, L. 2015; 195 (8): 3574–83


    The differentiation and survival of autoreactive B cells is normally limited by a variety of self-tolerance mechanisms, including clonal deletion, anergy, and clonal ignorance. The transcription factor c-ets-1 (encoded by the Ets1 gene) has B cell-intrinsic roles in regulating formation of Ab-secreting cells by controlling the activity of Blimp1 and Pax5 and may be required for B cell tolerance to self-antigen. To test this, we crossed Ets1(-/-) mice to two different transgenic models of B cell self-reactivity, the anti-hen egg lysozyme BCR transgenic strain and the AM14 rheumatoid factor transgenic strain. BCR transgenic Ets1(-/-) mice were subsequently crossed to mice either carrying or lacking relevant autoantigens. We found that B cells lacking c-ets-1 are generally hyperresponsive in terms of Ab secretion and form large numbers of Ab-secreting cells even in the absence of cognate Ags. When in the presence of cognate Ag, different responses were noted depending on the physical characteristics of the Ag. We found that clonal deletion of highly autoreactive B cells in the bone marrow was intact in the absence of c-ets-1. However, peripheral B cells lacking c-ets-1 failed to become tolerant in response to stimuli that normally induce B cell anergy or B cell clonal ignorance. Interestingly, high-affinity soluble self-antigen did cause B cells to adopt many of the classical features of anergic B cells, although such cells still secreted Ab. Therefore, maintenance of appropriate c-ets-1 levels is essential to prevent loss of self-tolerance in the B cell compartment.

    View details for DOI 10.4049/jimmunol.1500776

    View details for Web of Science ID 000362968100013

    View details for PubMedID 26355157

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4568556

  • Genetic Interaction between Lyn, Ets1, and Btk in the Control of Antibody Levels JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY Mayeux, J., Skaug, B., Luo, W., Russell, L. M., John, S., Saelee, P., Abbasi, H., Li, Q., Garrett-Sinha, L., Satterthwaite, A. B. 2015; 195 (5): 1955–63


    Tight control of B cell differentiation into plasma cells (PCs) is critical for proper immune responses and the prevention of autoimmunity. The Ets1 transcription factor acts in B cells to prevent PC differentiation. Ets1(-/-) mice accumulate PCs and produce autoantibodies. Ets1 expression is downregulated upon B cell activation through the BCR and TLRs and is maintained by the inhibitory signaling pathway mediated by Lyn, CD22 and SiglecG, and SHP-1. In the absence of these inhibitory components, Ets1 levels are reduced in B cells in a Btk-dependent manner. This leads to increased PCs, autoantibodies, and an autoimmune phenotype similar to that of Ets1(-/-) mice. Defects in inhibitory signaling molecules, including Lyn and Ets1, are associated with human lupus, although the effects are more subtle than the complete deficiency that occurs in knockout mice. In this study, we explore the effect of partial disruption of the Lyn/Ets1 pathway on B cell tolerance and find that Lyn(+/-)Ets1(+/-) mice demonstrate greater and earlier production of IgM, but not IgG, autoantibodies compared with Lyn(+/-) or Ets1(+/-) mice. We also show that Btk-dependent downregulation of Ets1 is important for normal PC homeostasis when inhibitory signaling is intact. Ets1 deficiency restores the decrease in steady state PCs and Ab levels observed in Btk(-/-) mice. Thus, depending on the balance of activating and inhibitory signals to Ets1, there is a continuum of effects on autoantibody production and PC maintenance. This ranges from full-blown autoimmunity with complete loss of Ets1-maintaining signals to reduced PC and Ab levels with impaired Ets1 downregulation.

    View details for PubMedID 26209625

  • Endostar attenuates melanoma tumor growth via its interruption of b-FGF mediated angiogenesis CANCER LETTERS Xiao, L., Yang, S., Hao, J., Yuan, X., Luo, W., Jiang, L., Hu, Y., Fu, Z., Zhang, Y., Zou, C. 2015; 359 (1): 148-154


    To develop optimal therapeutics is one of the hotspots in both clinical and basic melanoma studies. Previous studies indicate that fibroblast growth factors (b-FGF/FGF-2), an angiogenesis inducer beyond VEGF, might be a potential drug target in melanoma. As a novel anti-angiogenesis peptide drug, Endostar has shown promising therapeutic efficacy in non-small cell lung cancer. However, the effect of Endostar on b-FGF-induced angiogenesis in melanoma is unraveled. To this end, both in vivo and in vitro experiments were conducted and it was found that treatment of Endostar could inhibit tumor growth, which was accompanied by decreased micro-vessel density and serum b-FGF levels in a mouse melanoma model. In addition, treatment with Endostar in blood vessel endothelial cells could reduce their proliferation, cell migration and tube formation capacity in a dosage-dependent manner. Moreover, treatment of Endostar could also attenuate b-FGF-activated phosphorylation of p38 and ERK1/2 in HUVECs. These findings indicate that Endostar might exert its anti-tumor effect via suppressing b-FGF-induced angiogenesis and b-FGF-activated MAPK signaling pathway, suggesting that Endostar might be a potential choice for clinical melanoma treatment.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.canlet.2015.01.012

    View details for Web of Science ID 000350181700015

    View details for PubMedID 25597785

  • Transcription Factor Ets1, but Not the Closely Related Factor Ets2, Inhibits Antibody-Secreting Cell Differentiation MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR BIOLOGY John, S., Russell, L., Chin, S., Luo, W., Oshima, R., Garrett-Sinha, L. 2014; 34 (3): 522–32


    B cell differentiation into antibody-secreting cells (ASCs) is a tightly regulated process under the control of multiple transcription factors. One such transcription factor, Ets1, blocks the transition of B cells to ASCs via two separate activities: (i) stimulating the expression of target genes that promote B cell identity and (ii) interfering with the functional activity of the transcription factor Blimp1. Ets1 is a member of a multigene family, several members of which are expressed within the B cell lineage, including the closely related protein Ets2. In this report, we demonstrate that Ets1, but not Ets2, can block ASC formation despite the fact that Ets1 and Ets2 bind to apparently identical DNA sequence motifs and are thought to regulate overlapping sets of target genes. The DNA binding domain of Ets1 is required, but not sufficient by itself, to block ASC formation. In addition, less conserved regions within the N terminus of Ets1 play an important role in inhibiting B cell differentiation. Differences between the N termini of Ets1 and Ets2, rather than differences in the DNA binding domains, determine whether the proteins are capable of blocking ASC formation or not.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/MCB.00612-13

    View details for Web of Science ID 000330582200020

    View details for PubMedID 24277931

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3911503

  • N-terminal modification increases the stability of the recombinant human endostatin in vitro BIOTECHNOLOGY AND APPLIED BIOCHEMISTRY Jiang, L., Zou, C., Yuan, X., Luo, W., Wen, Y., Chen, Y. 2009; 54: 113-120


    Endostar, approved for the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer by the State Food and Drug Administration in China, is a derivative of human endostatin that is modified with an additional metal-chelating sequence (MGGSHHHHH) at the N-terminus. This modification contributes to an additional zinc-binding site in the endostatin sequence. In the present study, zinc-binding and zinc-free endostar were compared to further characterize their biochemical and structural properties. Thermally induced denaturation was determined by monitoring changes in fluorescence emission spectra. The data indicated that zinc binding significantly increased the transition temperature of endostar and contributed to a reversible change in protein conformation after recooling. Proteolysis assays demonstrated that the modified protein binding with zinc ions can stabilize the N-terminus and the C-terminus of endostar when treated with trypsin, chymotrypsin and carboxypeptidase A and B. Western-blot analyses using anti-His6 antibody confirmed that the major cleaved fragments of endostar were in the N-terminus when treated with trypsin and chymotrypsin. In the proliferation assay with human umbilical-vein endothelial cells, the zinc-binding and zinc-free endostar samples with extra zinc-binding sites displayed similar inhibiting activities.

    View details for DOI 10.1042/BA20090063

    View details for Web of Science ID 000270769000005

    View details for PubMedID 19527221