Professor, Microbiology & Immunology
Research and Clinical Interests
Pathogenesis of infectious disease is not only determined by the virulence of the microbe but also by the immune status of the host. Vaccination is the most effective means to control infectious diseases. A hallmark of the adaptive immune system is the generation of B cell memory, which provides a long-lasting protective antibody response that is central to the concept of vaccination. Recent studies in my laboratory revealed a distinct function for B1b lymphocytes, a minor subset of mature B cells that closely resembles that of memory B cells in a number of aspects. In contrast to the development of conventional B cell memory, which requires the formation of germinal centers and T cells, the development of B1b cell-mediated long-lasting antibody responses occurs independent of T cell-help. T cell-independent (TI) antigens are important virulence factors expressed by a number of bacterial pathogens including those associated with biological threats. TI antigens cannot be processed and presented to T cells and therefore are known to possess restricted T cell-dependent (TD) immunogenicity. Nevertheless, specific recognition of TI antigens by B1b cells and the highly protective antibody responses mounted by them clearly indicate a crucial role for this subset of B cells in the host's ability to overcome the restricted TD antibody response. Understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms of long-term immunity conferred by B1b cells may lead to improving the vaccine efficacy for a variety of TI antigens.