Susan K. Pierce, Ph.D.Twinbrook II, Room 21312441 Parklawn Drive, MSC 8180Rockville, MD 20892-8180Phone: 301-496-9589Fax: email@example.com
Dr. Pierce came to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from Northwestern University, where she was the William A. and Gayle Cook chair in the biological sciences and a biochemistry professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology, which she chaired from 1990 to 1993. Before coming to the NIAID intramural research program, Dr. Pierce was an NIH grant recipient for research in the area of antigen processing and presentation. She also served NIAID's intramural program as a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors and received a merit award from NIAID.
The B cell receptor (BCR) serves two essential functions in B cell activation, namely the initiation of signaling cascades that lead to the transcription of a variety of genes associated with B cell activation and the transport of antigen to intracellular compartments where the antigen is processed and presented on MHC class II molecules for recognition by helper T cells. Provided with the appropriate T cell help following antigen contact, B cells proliferate and differentiate into short lived antibody secreting plasma cells as well as long lived plasma cells and memory B cells that constitute immunological memory. The long range goal of the Lymphocyte Activation Section (LAS) is to gain an understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie the initiation of BCR signaling, the intracellular trafficking of the BCR and the generation, maintenance and activation of B cell memory. Of particular interest is the regulation of these processes by B cell activating and inhibitory coreceptors and during immune responses to infection. The long range goals of LAS are:
To gain an understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which antigen engagement by BCR triggers a signaling cascade. A key element of this aim is the use of live-cell imaging techniques that allows analyses of the earliest events in the initiation of signaling that follow within seconds of the binding of the antigen to BCR at the single molecule level.
To determine the mechanisms that underlie the internalization and trafficking of BCR to MHC class II-containing intracellular compartments. These studies are defining the spatial relationship between the location of the BCR and the activation of various components of the signaling cascade including the location of the interactions of the BCR with the intracellular innate immune system Toll-like receptors expressed by B cells that modulate BCR signaling.
To define the mechanisms that underlie the regulation of B cell responses by the innate immune system receptors including the Toll-like receptors and the activating receptor complex CD19/CD21 and the inhibitory receptor FcγRIIB.
To gain an understanding of the cellular mechanisms underlying the generation, maintenance and activation of B cell immunological memory. These studies are focused on the acquisition and maintenance of memory in response to antigens of the malaria parasite, P. falciparum, in response to vaccination in the U.S. and to natural infection in Africa.
It is hoped that knowledge gained through these studies will add fundamentally to our understanding of B cell activation and its regulation. Such knowledge is likely to aid research efforts in two areas of high public health priority, namely, the development of new therapeutics to control B cell responses in autoimmune disease and the design of effective vaccines to control infectious diseases.
We are carrying out a longitudinal study in Mali, Africa, to determine the effect of malaria infections on the acquisition of immunity to malaria. Shown (above) are two volunteers in our study and (right) a proteomic microarray containing proteins from approximately 25 percent of the Plasmodium falciparum genome probed with sera from volunteers in our study sorted by those who had malaria and those that did not. The protein microarray is one of several immune parameters we are assessing.
Tolar P, Sohn HW, Pierce SK. The initiation of antigen-induced BCR signaling viewed in living cells by FRET. Nat Immunol. 6:1168 (2005).
Sohn HW, Tolar P, Jin T, Pierce SK. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer in living cells reveals dynamic membrane changes in the initiation of B cell signaling. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 103:8143 (2006).
Sohn HW, Tolar P, Pierce SK. Membrane heterogeneities in the formation of B cell receptor-Lyn-kinase microclusters and the immune synapse. J Cell Biol. (2008).
Chaturvedi A, Dorward D, Pierce SK. The B cell receptor governs the subcellular location of Toll-like receptor 9 leading to hyper-responses to DNA-containing antigens. Immunity. 281-11 (2008).
Crompton PD, Traore B, Kayentao K, Doumbo S, Ongoiba A, Diakite Seidina AS, Krause MA., Doumtabe D, Kone Y, Weiss G, Huang C-Y, Doumbia S, Guindo A, Fairhurst RM., Miller LH., Pierce SK, Doumbo OK. Sickle cell trait is associated with a delayed onset of malaria: Implications for time to event analysis in clinical studies of malaria. J Infect Dis. (2008).
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Last Updated December 21, 2011