Molecular Requirements for MHC Class II α-Chain Engagement and Allelic Discrimination by the Bacterial Superantigen SpeC

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Superantigen Group (SAgs)

Superantigens (SAgs) are a group of virulent toxins that indiscriminately activate T-cells of the immune system causing system-wide inflammation and other serious, potentially fatal symptoms . They are not quite the same as antigens - though they almost all have antigenic properties- but rather receive their name from their powers to stimulate a massive antigen-nonspecific immune response.


Our laboratory is interested in rheumatic autoimmune diseases. Specifically, our current research focuses on the pathogenesis of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). We are studying the role of MHC class II molecules as well as auto-antigens (e.g.citrullinated proteins) in the development of this disease. Our research is performed using human RA clinical specimens and humanized (MHC class II) tg mice as animal model for RA.

  • autoimmunity
  • immunobiology of superantigens
  • CHI

Mansour Haeryfar
Morbidity and mortality associated with pathogen-derived superantigens are caused by excessive immune responses to these toxins. We are interested in exploring whether and how various regulatory/suppressor cells of the immune system respond to a superantigenic challenge and how they may modulate cytokine storm and exaggerated T cell reactions to superantigens.
  • CTL biology
  • antiviral immunity
  • tumor immunology
  • immunobiology of superantigens
  • biotherapeutics
  • CHI

David Heinrichs Heinrichs As an established major source of life threatening hospital infections, the Staphylococcus aureus superbug is also causing serious infections in the community. The primary focus of my laboratory is on the study of S. aureus proteins that are essential for the acquisition of iron, a critical nutrient. Bacterial proteins involved in the acquisition of host iron sources are considered virulence factors, and studying how these proteins operate will allow us to design rationale approaches to inhibit their function and thus attenuate S. aureus infections.


John McCormick
Our major research focus includes a detailed structural and functional characterization of a group of potent "superantigen" toxins produced by the notorious human pathogens Streptococcus pyogenes and Staphylococcus aureus . Our goals include the development of novel inhibitors for these toxins and harnessing their properties for immunotherapeutic agents.We are also interested in host-pathogen and interspecies bacterial communication systems. This work includes communication between pathogens and commensal or probiotic organisms, and we are utilizing proteomic and in vivo expression technology systems to achieve these goals.
  • molecular genetics
  • immunobiology of superantigens
  • probiotics
  • CHI

Martin McGavin




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