Amanda Poholek, Ph.D.
University of Pittsburgh
Protein Holds Clue to Allergic Airway Inflammation
Allergic asthma is a chronic lung disease that occurs in response to allergens in the environment. Asthma is driven in part by inappropriate activation of T cells, an important component of the immune system. Transcription factors are proteins that alter T cell function to become inflammatory and drive disease. In an animal model of asthma, we found the presence of the transcription factor Blimp-1 in T cells drives allergic airway inflammation. We will identify the environmental factors that lead to the activation of Blimp-1 and investigate how Blimp-1 causes T cells to drive allergic asthma. We expect these studies to identify potential drug targets for specific therapies that would treat the causes of asthma, rather than symptoms.
Update: Our studies are aimed at understanding how Blimp-1 in T cells promotes the development of Th2 cells (a type of T cell that plays an important role in the immune system) and leads to allergic airway disease. We have identified that a protein called STAT3 regulates Blimp-1 in Th2 cells. These data suggest that the STAT3-Blimp-1 signaling axis is a critical pathway that drives early asthma disease by promoting Th2 cell development. Our future plans are to understand the signals that are activating STAT3 to promote allergic lung inflammation and to identify the mechanism by which Blimp-1 promotes Th2 cell development.