Pneumocystis Studies

CD4-independent Vaccination

The CD-4 independent Vaccination is one strategy used in the Kolls Lab.

Our long-term goal is to develop a novel vaccination strategy against opportunistic infections in HIV/AIDS patient as well as immunocompromised persons. We have identified a novel vaccine candidate for Pneumocystis termed mini-kexin. We are investigating how host CD4+ T lymphocytes participate in systemic and mucosal immune responses to the kexin vaccine.

Influence of T Cells on Airway Epithelial Host Defense

Airway epithelial cells are the initial point of contact for lung pathogens. In response to inflammatory stimuli, they produce anti-microbial peptides, reactive oxygen species, chemokines, anti-apoptotic and proliferative genes. We are studying the roles of T cells, IL-17 and IL-22 in these processes. It is our goal to discover novel gene expression patterns in epithelial cells that are caused by infections, inflammation and injury, and to test new therapeutic targets.

Influence of T Cells on Airway Epithelial Host Defense

We study the relationship between airway epithelial cells, dendritic cells and T cells during the initiation of inflammation and resolution of infection. Click for larger image.

Anti-fungal Carbohydrate Antibodies Against Pneumocystis

We are working to better understand the role of host defense against Pneumocystis, particularly the role of anti-fungal carbohydrate antibodies. The cell walls of most fungal species, including Pneumocystis, contain the two carbohydrate polymers beta-1,3-glucan and chitin, and our lab has shown that antibodies against these carbohydrate antigens are a component of the natural antibody repertoire of multiple species. These IgM antibodies participate in early clearance of Pneumocystis organisms from the lung and influence the generation of the adaptive immune response.