Baylor Research Could Lead to Development of Novel Vaccines from Flu to HIV

The diverse functions of a special cell-recognition lipoprotein, LOX-1, weren’t always fully understood. However, Baylor Research Institute investigators gained better insight into LOX-1’s role in immune responses through a study recently published in Immunity. Investigators found that the lipoprotein promotes humoral responses, which could allow researchers to design effective vaccines against microbial infections, including influenza viruses and HIV.

The study, which was featured on the cover of Immunity, was accompanied by a painted representation of the article. Immunity asked the authors of selected manuscripts to create a cover image. Baylor investigator HyeMee Joo, PhD - the first author on the study - illustrated a portrayal of Baylor Institute for Immunology Research’s work, and that depiction was chosen for the cover of the peer-reviewed journal.

Joo’s drawing shows a slot machine hitting the jackpot. The cover image illustrates how a dendritic cell, which is represented by the slot machine, is stimulated by LOX-1, depicted by hitting the jackpot. The result is the production of B cell class-switched antibodies, represented by the multicolored antibodies at the lower section of the slot machine.

What makes LOX-1 unique is its ability to license dendritic cells and B cells in order to stimulate humoral responses, according to Baylor’s SangKon Oh, PhD, the lead investigator on the study.

“Discovering these novel functions of an innate immune receptor that is expressed on dendritic cells is fundamental for the rational design of therapeutics and vaccines against infections and cancers,” says Oh, an investigator at BIIR who has studied the topic for nine years.

How LOX-1 expresses itself on dendritic cells and B cells differs. LOX-1 programs B cells to upregulate C-C chemokine receptor type 7, which is commonly known as CCR7. When stimulating dendritic cells, LOX-1 does two things: the lipoprotein programs dendritic cells to promote class-switched antibody responses and to upregulate C-C chemokine receptor type 10 (CCR10) expression on plasmablasts.

The combination of LOX-1’s expression on B cells and dendritic cells, however, is what causes humoral immune responses, which could lead to the development of effective vaccinations.

“Discovering new targets for therapeutics and vaccines is one of the major missions of the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research,” Oh says.

This study was also featured in Immunity (“LOX-1 Unlocks Human Plasma Cell Potential,” written by Dr. Robert Brink) and Nature Review Immunology (“Picking LOX to Find Antibodies,” written by Dr. Yvonne Bordon).

Source: Baylor Scott & White Health