Deborah Dunn-Walters

Professor Deborah Dunn-Walters FRSB

Professor of Immunology, Associate Dean Research and Innovation
BSc (Hons I), PhD
Flexible, Zoom/Teams by appointment. Drop me an email to arrange
Executive Assistant: Carolina McGown


University roles and responsibilities

  • Head of Department of Biochemistry and Physiology
  • Associate Dean for Research and Innovation

    Previous roles

    2017 - 2019
    School of Biosciences and Medicine Research Director
    01 May 2016 - 31 March 2023
    Section Lead for Immunology
    2019 - 2022
    University Research Theme Lead Lifelong Health

    Affiliations and memberships

    Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology
    Member of the British Society for Immunology
    Member of the British Society for Research on Ageing


    Research interests


    Matt Spick, Katie Longman, Cecile Frampas, Catia Costa, Holly Lewis, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Alex Stewart, Michael Wilde, George Evetts, Danni Greener, Drupad Trivedi, Perdita Barran, Andy Pitt, MATTHEW PAUL SPICK, Melanie Bailey (2021)Data for Changes to the sebum lipidome upon COVID-19 infection observed via rapid sampling from the skin, In: Changes to the sebum lipidome upon COVID-19 infection observed via rapid sampling from the skin Zenodo

    Description This dataset of participant, field blank and quality control liquid-chromatography-mass spectrometry .raw files supports the following article: Changes to the sebum lipidome upon COVID-19 infection observed via rapid sampling from the skin - EClinicalMedicine ( Background The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented demand for testing - for diagnosis and prognosis - as well as for investigation into the impact of the disease on the host metabolism. Sebum sampling has the potential to support both needs by looking at what the virus does to us, rather than looking for the virus itself. Methods and attached dataset description In this pilot study, sebum samples were collected from 67 hospitalised patients (30 COVID-19 positive and 37 COVID-19 negative) by gauze swab. Lipidomics analysis was carried out using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry, identifying 998 reproducible features. Univariate and multivariate statistical analyses were applied to the resulting feature set. The dataset uploaded here represents .raw liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry files for participants (triplicate injections), field blanks and pooled quality control standards, as well as the output peak:area matrix. Findings Lipid levels were depressed in COVID-19 positive participants, indicative of dyslipidemia; p-values of 0·022 and 0·015 were obtained for triglycerides and ceramides respectively, with effect sizes of 0·44 and 0·57. Partial Least Squares-Discriminant Analysis showed separation of COVID-19 positive and negative participants with sensitivity of 57% and specificity of 68%, improving to 79% and 83% respectively when controlled for confounding comorbidities. Interpretation COVID-19 dysregulates many areas of metabolism; in this work we show that the skin lipidome can be added to the list. Given that samples can be provided quickly and painlessly, we conclude that sebum is worthy of future consideration for clinical sampling.

    Joseph C.F. Ng, Guillem Montamat Garcia, Alexander T. Stewart, Paul Blair, Claudia Mauri, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Franca Fraternali (2023)sciCSR infers B cell state transition and predicts class-switch recombination dynamics using single-cell transcriptomic data, In: Nature Methods Nature Research

    Class-switch recombination (CSR) is an integral part of B cell maturation. Here we present sciCSR (pronounced ‘scissor’, single-cell inference of class-switch recombination), a computational pipeline that analyzes CSR events and dynamics of B cells from single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) experiments. Validated on both simulated and real data, sciCSR re-analyzes scRNA-seq alignments to differentiate productive heavy-chain immunoglobulin transcripts from germline ‘sterile’ transcripts. From a snapshot of B cell scRNA-seq data, a Markov state model is built to infer the dynamics and direction of CSR. Applying sciCSR on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 vaccination time-course scRNA-seq data, we observe that sciCSR predicts, using data from an earlier time point in the collected time-course, the isotype distribution of B cell receptor repertoires of subsequent time points with high accuracy (cosine similarity ~0.9). Using processes specific to B cells, sciCSR identifies transitions that are often missed by conventional RNA velocity analyses and can reveal insights into the dynamics of B cell CSR during immune response.

    Cecile F. Frampas, Katie Longman, Matt Spick, Holly-May Lewis, Catia D. S. Costa, Alex Stewart, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Danni Greener, George Evetts, Debra J. Skene, Drupad Trivedi, Andy Pitt, Katherine Hollywood, Perdita Barran, Melanie J. Bailey (2022)Untargeted saliva metabolomics by liquid chromatography-Mass spectrometry reveals markers of COVID-19 severity, In: PloS one17(9)e0274967 Public Library Science

    Background The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to represent an ongoing global health issue given the potential for new variants, vaccine escape and the low likelihood of eliminating all reservoirs of the disease. Whilst diagnostic testing has progressed at a fast pace, the metabolic drivers of outcomes-and whether markers can be found in different biofluids-are not well understood. Recent research has shown that serum metabolomics has potential for prognosis of disease progression. In a hospital setting, collection of saliva samples is more convenient for both staff and patients, and therefore offers an alternative sampling matrix to serum. Methods Saliva samples were collected from hospitalised patients with clinical suspicion of COVID-19, alongside clinical metadata. COVID-19 diagnosis was confirmed using RT-PCR testing, and COVID-19 severity was classified using clinical descriptors (respiratory rate, peripheral oxygen saturation score and C-reactive protein levels). Metabolites were extracted and analysed using high resolution liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, and the resulting peak area matrix was analysed using multivariate techniques. Results Positive percent agreement of 1.00 between a partial least squares-discriminant analysis metabolomics model employing a panel of 6 features (5 of which were amino acids, one that could be identified by formula only) and the clinical diagnosis of COVID-19 severity was achieved. The negative percent agreement with the clinical severity diagnosis was also 1.00, leading to an area under receiver operating characteristics curve of 1.00 for the panel of features identified. Conclusions In this exploratory work, we found that saliva metabolomics and in particular amino acids can be capable of separating high severity COVID-19 patients from low severity COVID-19 patients. This expands the atlas of COVID-19 metabolic dysregulation and could in future offer the basis of a quick and non-invasive means of sampling patients, intended to supplement existing clinical tests, with the goal of offering timely treatment to patients with potentially poor outcomes.

    Deborah Dunn-Walters, Danny Altmann, Elena Bottazzi, Judith Breuer, Siamon Gordon, Adrian Hayday, Tracy Hussell, Paul Klenerman, Clare Lloyd, Janet M Lord, Paul Morgan, Peter Openshaw, Ruth Payne, Ultan F Power, Eleanor Riley, Ken Smith, Ryan Thwaites, Xiao-Ning Xu (2021)COVID-19 briefing notes British Society for Immunology

    Executive summary Understanding immunity to COVID-19, induced by both natural infection and through vaccination, is key to our ability to exit the current pandemic. In this report, you will find the answers to key questions around what we know and don’t know about immunity to the virus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease, COVID-19. This includes the effectiveness of the immune response, how to measure and track immunity, the benefits of vaccine-mediated immunity, and the longevity of any immunity conferred. We have sought to make the subject matter relevant to both the public policy discussions that are ongoing and those that will arise as the pandemic situation begins to change over the next few months. It is important to say that there are differing degrees of immunity. Different individuals will create different immune responses to invasive pathogens, and the case of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is no exception. Some people create a very effective immune response, so they will not get sick again from SARS-CoV-2 and will not pass the virus to anyone else (so-called ‘sterilising’ immunity), while others will make antibodies* and be protected from the disease COVID-19, but may still be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and transmit it to others (‘protective’ immunity). Immunity can be difficult to measure. The best marker currently is neutralising antibodies*, which have been shown to persist in some individuals up to 8 months after original infection. While immunity can also be measured by looking at memory immune cells, methods for doing this at scale are not currently available. Immunity can wane over time and this can lead to the small chance of reinfection. Exactly how long immunity following COVID-19 lasts will need a longer time to determine. Vaccine-mediated immunity is preferable and safer than naturally acquired immunity. While clinical trials recorded the ability of the vaccines to protect from COVID-19 disease, questions remain around whether the vaccines being administered currently will prevent people from being able to carry and transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Currently not enough time has elapsed between the vaccines first being administered in humans and the present time for durability of vaccine-induced immunity to be determined, but this is the subject of ongoing phase 3 vaccine studies. The answers to all these questions will have a profound impact on the policy decisions that the Government makes. Questions over how immunity can be measured, how long immunity lasts and the reliability of such tests can undermine the usefulness of ‘vaccine passports’, and whether the vaccine stops the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others or simply stops the person who has been vaccinated from contracting the disease, COVID-19, will be vital to finding our way out of this pandemic. The longevity of immunity conferred by a vaccine will determine whether there will be need for an annual COVID-19 vaccination programme, like that currently carried out for flu. With so many key policy issues resting on issues of COVID-19 immunity, it is integral to the country’s future that we immediately implement a robust and widespread immune monitoring programme to understand in detail the immunity conferred through vaccination in different individuals. It is also crucial that we ensure proper surveillance of viral variance at a global scale and through this the ability of any variants to escape vaccine-mediated immunity. With the UK being an international leader in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, we can lead the world in immune monitoring protocols that will allow us to emerge from this pandemic more safely and quickly. This is an opportunity that we should seize with both hands.

    Jessica Mallaby, William Mwangi, Joseph Ng, Daniel Dorey-Robinson, Alexander Stewart, David Kipling, Uri Hershberg, Franca Fraternali, Venugopal Nair, Deborah Dunn-Walters (2023)Diversification of immunoglobulin genes by gene conversion in the domestic chicken ( Gallus gallus domesticus), In: Discovery immunology2(1)

    Abstract Sustainable modern poultry production depends on effective protection against infectious diseases and a diverse range of antibodies is key for an effective immune response. In the domestic chicken, somatic gene conversion is the dominant process in which the antibody immunoglobulin genes are diversified. Affinity maturation by somatic hypermutation (SHM) also occurs, but the relative contribution of gene conversion versus somatic hypermutation to immunoglobulin (Ig) gene diversity is poorly understood. In this study, we use high throughput long-read sequencing to study immunoglobulin diversity in multiple immune-associated tissues in Rhode Island Red chickens. To better understand the impact of genetic diversification in the chicken, a novel gene conversion identification software was developed (BrepConvert). In this study, BrepConvert enabled the identification of over 1 million gene conversion events. Mapping the occurrence of putative somatic gene conversion (SGC) events throughout the variable gene region revealed repetitive and highly restricted patterns of genetic insertions in both the antibody heavy and light chains. These patterns coincided with the locations of genetic variability in available pseudogenes and align with antigen binding sites, predominately the complementary determining regions (CDRs). We found biased usage of pseudogenes during gene conversion, as well as immunoglobulin heavy chain diversity gene (IGHD) preferences during V(D)J gene rearrangement, suggesting that antibody diversification in chickens is more focused than the genetic potential for diversity would suggest.

    Veerle Somers, Deborah Dunn-Walters, M van der Burg, Judith Fraussen (2022)Editorial: New Insights Into B Cell Subsets in Health and Disease, In: Frontiers in immunology13854889
    Robert J. Harris, Anthony Cheung, Joseph Ng, Roman Laddach, Alicia M. Chenoweth, Silvia Crescioli, Matthew Fittall, Diana Dominguez-Rodriguez, James Roberts, Dina Levi, Fangfang Liu, Elena Alberts, Jelmar Quist, Aida Santaolalla, Sarah E. Pinder, Cheryl Gillett, Niklas Hammar, Sheeba Irshad, Mieke Van Hemelrijck, Franca Fraternali, Deborah K. Dunn-Walters, James F. Spicer, Katie E. Lacy, Sophia Tsoka, Anita Grigoriadis, Andrew N.J. Tutt, Sophia N. Karagiannis (2021)Tumor-infiltrating B lymphocyte profiling identifies IgG-biased, clonally expanded prognostic phenotypes in triple-negative breast cancer, In: Cancer Research81(16)pp. 4290-4304 American Association for Cancer Research

    In breast cancer, humoral immune responses may contribute to clinical outcomes, especially in more immunogenic subtypes. Here, we investigated B lymphocyte subsets, immunoglobulin expression, and clonal features in breast tumors, focusing on aggressive triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC). In samples from patients with TNBC and healthy volunteers, circulating and tumor-infiltrating B lymphocytes (TIL-B) were evaluated. CD20⁺CD27⁺IgD⁻ isotype-switched B lymphocytes were increased in tumors, compared with matched blood. TIL-B frequently formed stromal clusters with T lymphocytes and engaged in bidirectional functional cross-talk, consistent with gene signatures associated with lymphoid assembly, costimulation, cytokine–cytokine receptor interactions, cytotoxic T-cell activation, and T-cell–dependent B-cell activation. TIL-B–upregulated B-cell receptor (BCR) pathway molecules FOS and JUN, germinal center chemokine regulator RGS1, activation marker CD69, and TNFα signal transduction via NFκB, suggesting BCR–immune complex formation. Expression of genes associated with B lymphocyte recruitment and lymphoid assembly, including CXCL13, CXCR4, and DC-LAMP, was elevated in TNBC compared with other subtypes and normal breast. TIL-B–rich tumors showed expansion of IgG but not IgA isotypes, and IgG isotype switching positively associated with survival outcomes in TNBC. Clonal expansion was biased toward IgG, showing expansive clonal families with specific variable region gene combinations and narrow repertoires. Stronger positive selection pressure was present in the complementarity determining regions of IgG compared with their clonally related IgA in tumor samples. Overall, class-switched B lymphocyte lineage traits were conspicuous in TNBC, associated with improved clinical outcomes, and conferred IgG-biased, clonally expanded, and likely antigen-driven humoral responses.

    Alexander Stewart, Emma Louise Sinclair, Joseph Chi-Fung Ng, Joselli Silva O'Hare, Audrey Page, Ilaria Serangeli, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Christian Margreitter, Federica Orsenigo, Katherine Longman, Cecile Frampas, Catia Costa, Holly-May Lewis, Nora Kasar, Bryan Wu, D Kipling, Peter J. M. Openshaw, Christopher Chiu, J Kenneth Baillie, Melanie J. Bailey, Janet T Scott, Malcolm G Semple, Franca Fraternali (2022)Pandemic, Epidemic, Endemic: B Cell Repertoire Analysis Reveals Unique Anti-Viral Responses to SARS-CoV-2, Ebola and Respiratory Syncytial Virus, In: Frontiers in Immunology13807104 Frontiers Media

    Immunoglobulin gene heterogeneity reflects the diversity and focus of the humoral immune response towards different infections, enabling inference of B cell development processes. Detailed compositional and lineage analysis of long read IGH repertoire sequencing, combining examples of pandemic, epidemic and endemic viral infections with control and vaccination samples, demonstrates general responses including increased use of IGHV4-39 in both Zaire Ebolavirus (EBOV) and COVID-19 patient cohorts. We also show unique characteristics absent in Respiratory Syncytial Virus or yellow fever vaccine samples: EBOV survivors show unprecedented high levels of class switching events while COVID-19 repertoires from acute disease appear underdeveloped. Despite the high levels of clonal expansion in COVID-19 IgG1 repertoires there is a striking lack of evidence of germinal centre mutation and selection. Given the differences in COVID-19 morbidity and mortality with age, it is also pertinent that we find significant differences in repertoire characteristics between young and old patients. Our data supports the hypothesis that a primary viral challenge can result in a strong but immature humoral response where failures in selection of the repertoire risk off-target effects.

    Silvia Crescioli, Isabel Correa, Joseph Ng, Zena N Willsmore, Roman Laddach, Alicia Chenoweth, Jitesh Chauhan, Ashley Di Meo, Alexander Stewart, Eleni Kalliolia, Elena Alberts, Rebecca Adams, Robert J Harris, Silvia Mele, Giulia Pellizzari, Anna B M Black, Heather J Bax, Anthony Cheung, Mano Nakamura, Ricarda M Hoffmann, Manuela Terranova-Barberio, Niwa Ali, Ihor Batruch, Antoninus Soosaipillai, Ioannis Prassas, Antigona Ulndreaj, Miyo K Chatanaka, Rosamund Nuamah, Shichina Kannambath, Pawan Dhami, Jenny L C Geh, Alastair D MacKenzie Ross, Ciaran Healy, Anita Grigoriadis, David Kipling, Panagiotis Karagiannis, Deborah K Dunn-Walters, Eleftherios P Diamandis, Sophia Tsoka, James Spicer, Katie E Lacy, Franca Fraternali, Sophia N Karagiannis (2023)B cell profiles, antibody repertoire and reactivity reveal dysregulated responses with autoimmune features in melanoma, In: Nature communications14(1)3378pp. 3378-3378

    B cells are known to contribute to the anti-tumor immune response, especially in immunogenic tumors such as melanoma, yet humoral immunity has not been characterized in these cancers to detail. Here we show comprehensive phenotyping in samples of circulating and tumor-resident B cells as well as serum antibodies in melanoma patients. Memory B cells are enriched in tumors compared to blood in paired samples and feature distinct antibody repertoires, linked to specific isotypes. Tumor-associated B cells undergo clonal expansion, class switch recombination, somatic hypermutation and receptor revision. Compared with blood, tumor-associated B cells produce antibodies with proportionally higher levels of unproductive sequences and distinct complementarity determining region 3 properties. The observed features are signs of affinity maturation and polyreactivity and suggest an active and aberrant autoimmune-like reaction in the tumor microenvironment. Consistent with this, tumor-derived antibodies are polyreactive and characterized by autoantigen recognition. Serum antibodies show reactivity to antigens attributed to autoimmune diseases and cancer, and their levels are higher in patients with active disease compared to post-resection state. Our findings thus reveal B cell lineage dysregulation with distinct antibody repertoire and specificity, alongside clonally-expanded tumor-infiltrating B cells with autoimmune-like features, shaping the humoral immune response in melanoma.

    Alexander Stewart, Joseph Chi-Fung Ng, Gillian Wallis, Vasiliki Tsioligka, Franca Fraternali, Deborah K Dunn-Walters (2021)Single-Cell Transcriptomic Analyses Define Distinct Peripheral B Cell Subsets and Discrete Development Pathways, In: Frontiers in immunology12 Frontiers Media

    Separation of B cells into different subsets has been useful to understand their different functions in various immune scenarios. In some instances, the subsets defined by phenotypic FACS separation are relatively homogeneous and so establishing the functions associated with them is straightforward. Other subsets, such as the “Double negative” (DN, CD19+CD27-IgD-) population, are more complex with reports of differing functionality which could indicate a heterogeneous population. Recent advances in single-cell techniques enable an alternative route to characterize cells based on their transcriptome. To maximize immunological insight, we need to match prior data from phenotype-based studies with the finer granularity of the single-cell transcriptomic signatures. We also need to be able to define meaningful B cell subsets from single cell analyses performed on PBMCs, where the relative paucity of a B cell signature means that defining B cell subsets within the whole is challenging. Here we provide a reference single-cell dataset based on phenotypically sorted B cells and an unbiased procedure to better classify functional B cell subsets in the peripheral blood, particularly useful in establishing a baseline cellular landscape and in extracting significant changes with respect to this baseline from single-cell datasets. We find 10 different clusters of B cells and applied a novel, geometry-inspired, method to RNA velocity estimates in order to evaluate the dynamic transitions between B cell clusters. This indicated the presence of two main developmental branches of memory B cells. A T-independent branch that involves IgM memory cells and two DN subpopulations, culminating in a population thought to be associated with Age related B cells and the extrafollicular response. The other, T-dependent, branch involves a third DN cluster which appears to be a precursor of classical memory cells. In addition, we identify a novel DN4 population, which is IgE rich and closely linked to the classical/precursor memory branch suggesting an IgE specific T-dependent cell population.

    Mark David Hayes, Sophie Ward, Greg Crawford, Rocio Castro Seoane, William David Jackson, David Kipling, David Voehringer, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Jessica Strid (2020)Inflammation-induced IgE promotes epithelial hyperplasia and tumour growth, In: eLife9e51862 eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd

    IgE is the least abundant circulating antibody class but is constitutively present in healthy tissues bound to resident cells via its high-affinity receptor, FcεRI. The physiological role of endogenous IgE antibodies is unclear but it has been suggested that they provide host protection against a variety of noxious environmental substances and parasitic infections at epithelial barrier surfaces. Here we show, in mice, that skin inflammation enhances levels of IgE antibodies that have natural specificities and a repertoire, VDJ rearrangements and CDRH3 characteristics similar to those of IgE antibodies in healthy tissue. IgE-bearing basophils are recruited to inflamed skin via CXCL12 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP)/IL-3-dependent upregulation of CXCR4. In the inflamed skin, IgE/FcεRI-signalling in basophils promotes epithelial cell growth and differentiation, partly through histamine engagement of H 1 R and H 4 R. Furthermore, this IgE response strongly drives tumour outgrowth of epithelial cells harbouring oncogenic mutation. These findings indicate that natural IgE antibodies support skin barrier defences, but that during chronic tissue inflammation this role may be subverted to promote tumour growth.

    Theo W Combes, Federica Orsenigo, Alexander Stewart, A S Jeewaka R Mendis, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Siamon Gordon, Fernando O Martinez (2021)CSF1R defines the Mononuclear Phagocyte System lineage in human blood in health and COVID-19, In: Immunotherapy Advances Oxford University Press

    Mononuclear Phagocytes defend tissues, present antigens and mediate recovery and healing. To date we lack a marker to unify mononuclear phagocytes in humans or that informs us about their origin. Here, we reassess Mononuclear Phagocyte ontogeny in human blood through the lineage receptor CSF1R, in the steady state and in COVID-19. We define CSF1R as the first sensitive and reproducible pan-phagocyte lineage marker, to identify and enumerate all conventional monocytes, and the myeloid dendritic cells. In the steady state CSF1R is sufficient for sorting and immuno-magnetic isolation. In pathology, changes in CSF1R are more sensitive than CD14 and CD16. In COVID-19, a significant drop in membrane CSF1R is useful for stratifying patients, beyond the power of cell categories published thus far, which fail to capture COVID-19 specific events. Importantly, CSF1R defines cells which are neither conventional monocytes nor DCs, which are missed in published analysis. CSF1R decrease can be linked ex vivo to high CSF1 levels. Blood assessment of CSF1R+ cells opens a developmental window to the Mononuclear Phagocyte System in transit from bone marrow to tissues, supports isolation and phenotypic characterisation, identifies novel cell types, and singles out CSF1R inhibition as therapeutic target in COVID-19 and other diseases.

    D Bagnara, M Squillario, D Kipling, T Mora, AM Walczak, L Da Silva, S Weller, D Dunn-Walters, J-C Weill, C-A Reynaud (2015)A reassessment of IgM memory subsets in humans, In: Journal of Immunology195(8)pp. 3716-3724 American Association of Immunologists

    From paired blood and spleen samples from three adult donors, we performed high-throughput VH sequencing of human B cell subsets defined by IgD and CD27 expression: IgD+CD27+ (“marginal zone [MZ]”), IgD−CD27+ (“memory,” including IgM [“IgM-only”], IgG and IgA) and IgD−CD27− cells (“double-negative,” including IgM, IgG, and IgA). A total of 91,294 unique sequences clustered in 42,670 clones, revealing major clonal expansions in each of these subsets. Among these clones, we further analyzed those shared sequences from different subsets or tissues for VH gene mutation, H-CDR3-length, and VH/JH usage, comparing these different characteristics with all sequences from their subset of origin for which these parameters constitute a distinct signature. The IgM-only repertoire profile differed notably from that of MZ B cells by a higher mutation frequency and lower VH4 and higher JH6 gene usage. Strikingly, IgM sequences from clones shared between the MZ and the memory IgG/IgA compartments showed a mutation and repertoire profile of IgM-only and not of MZ B cells. Similarly, all IgM clonal relationships (among MZ, IgM-only, and double-negative compartments) involved sequences with the characteristics of IgM-only B cells. Finally, clonal relationships between tissues suggested distinct recirculation characteristics between MZ and switched B cells. The “IgM-only” subset (including cells with its repertoire signature but higher IgD or lower CD27 expression levels) thus appear as the only subset showing precursor–product relationships with CD27+ switched memory B cells, indicating that they represent germinal center–derived IgM memory B cells and that IgM memory and MZ B cells constitute two distinct entities.

    VG Martin, Y-CB Wu, CL Townsend, GH Lu, JS O'Hare, A Mozeika, AC Coolen, D Kipling, F Fraternali, Deborah Dunn-Walters (2016)Transitional B cells in early human B cell development - time to revisit the paradigm?, In: Frontiers in Immunology7546 Frontiers Media

    The B cell repertoire is generated in the adult bone marrow by an ordered series of gene rearrangement processes that result in massive diversity of immunoglobulin (Ig) genes, and consequently an equally large number of potential specificities for antigen. As the process is essentially random, then cells exhibiting excess reactivity with self-antigens are generated and need to be removed from the repertoire before the cells are fully mature. Some of the cells are deleted, and some will undergo receptor editing to see if changing the light chain can rescue an autoreactive antibody. As a consequence, the binding properties of the B cell receptor are changed as development progresses through pre- B>>immature>>transitional>>naïve phenotypes. Using long-read, high-throughput, sequencing we have produced a unique set of sequences from these four cell types in human bone marrow and matched peripheral blood and our results describe the effects of tolerance selection on the B cell repertoire at the Ig gene level. Most strong effects of selection are seen within the heavy chain repertoire, and can be seen both in gene usage and in CDR-H3 characteristics. Age-related changes are small and only the size of the CDR-H3 shows constant and significant change in these data. The paucity of significant changes in either kappa or lambda light chain repertoires implies that either the heavy chain has more influence over autoreactivity than light chain and/or that switching between kappa and lambda light chains, as opposed to switching within the light chain loci, may effect a more successful autoreactive rescue by receptor editing. Our results show that the transitional cell population contains cells other than those that are part of the pre-B>>immature>>transitional>>naïve development pathway, since the population often shows a repertoire that is outside the trajectory of gene loss/gain between pre-B and naïve stages.

    Deborah Dunn-Walters, Joselli Silva O’Hare (2017)Older Human B Cells and Antibodies, In: Tamas Fulop, Claudio Franceschi, Katsuiku Hirokawa, Graham Pawelec (eds.), Handbook of Immunosenescencepp. 1-34 Springer International Publishing

    B cells have a number of different roles in the immune response. Their excellent antigen presentation potential can contribute to the activation of other cells of the immune system, and evidence is emerging that specialized subsets of these cells, that may be increased with age, can influence the cell-mediated immune system in antitumor responses. They can also regulate immune responses, to avoid autoreactivity and excessive inflammation. Deficiencies in regulatory B cells may be beneficial in cancer but will only exacerbate the inflammatory environment that is a hallmark of aging. The B cell role as antibody producers is particularly important, since antibodies perform numerous different functions in different environments. Although studying tissue responses in humans is not as easy as in mice, we do know that certain classes of antibodies are more suited to protecting the mucosal tissues (IgA) or responding to T-independent bacterial polysaccharide antigens (IgG2) so we can make some inference with respect to tissue-specific immunity from a study of peripheral blood. We can also make inferences about changes in B cell development with age by looking at the repertoire of different B cell populations to see how age affects the selection events that would normally occur to avoid autoreactivity, or increase specificity, to antigen.

    Graham Pawelec, Ludmila Müller, Tamas Fülöp, Deborah Dunn-Walters (2017)Immune system changes and immunosenescence, In: Jean-Pierre Michel, B. Lynn Beattie, Finbarr C. Martin, Jeremy D. Walston (eds.), Oxford Textbook of Geriatric Medicine Oxford University Press

    The immune system defends against infection, but older people paradoxically suffer not only from failing immunity resulting in increased susceptibility to infections and decreased responsiveness to vaccination, but at the same time increased inflammation and immunopathology accompanying immune responses. Interventions to reduce such deleterious effects while enhancing protective immunity are challenging but need to be confronted if we are to deal successfully with the increasing numbers of elderly and frail people in modern societies. To do this, we need to understand the mechanisms responsible for age-associated increased susceptibility to infections and immune-influenced chronic degenerative diseases of ageing. Defining relevant age-associated alterations and identifying reliable biomarkers for monitoring clinically-relevant immune status in the elderly population is crucial to overcoming these problems. Here, we briefly outline age-associated changes to immunity collectively termed ‘immunosenescence’

    Greg Crawford, Mark David Hayes, Rocio Castro Seoane, Sophie Ward, Tim Dalessandri, Chester Lai, Eugene Healy, David Kipling, Charlotte Proby, Colin Moyes, Kile Green, Katie Best, Muzlifah Haniffa, Marina Botto, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Jessica Strid (2018)Epithelial damage and tissue γδ T cells promote a unique tumor-protective IgE response, In: Nature Immunology19pp. 859-870 Nature Publishing Group

    IgE is an ancient and conserved immunoglobulin isotype with potent immunological function. Nevertheless, the regulation of IgE responses remains an enigma, and evidence of a role for IgE in host defense is limited. Here we report that topical exposure to a common environmental DNA-damaging xenobiotic initiated stress surveillance by γδTCR+ intraepithelial lymphocytes that resulted in class switching to IgE in B cells and the accumulation of autoreactive IgE. High-throughput antibody sequencing revealed that γδ T cells shaped the IgE repertoire by supporting specific variable-diversity-joining (VDJ) rearrangements with unique characteristics of the complementarity-determining region CDRH3. This endogenous IgE response, via the IgE receptor FcεRI, provided protection against epithelial carcinogenesis, and expression of the gene encoding FcεRI in human squamous-cell carcinoma correlated with good disease prognosis. These data indicate a joint role for immunosurveillance by T cells and by B cells in epithelial tissues and suggest that IgE is part of the host defense against epithelial damage and tumor development.

    Sarah Moody, Leire Escudero-Ibarz, Ming Wang, Alexandra Clipson, Eguzkine Ochoa Ruiz, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Xuemin Xue, Naiyan Zeng, Alistair Robson, Shih-Sung Chuang, Sergio Cogliatti, Hongxiang Liu, John Goodlad, Margaret Ashton-Key, Markus Raderer, Yingwen Bi, Ming-Qing Du (2017)Significant association between TNFAIP3 inactivation and biased IGHV4-34 usage in MALT lymphoma, In: Journal of Pathology243(1)pp. 3-8 Wiley

    Both antigenic drive and genetic change play a critical role in the development of MALT lymphoma, but neither alone is sufficient for malignant transformation, and lymphoma development critically depends on their cooperation. However, which of these different events concur and how they cooperate in MALT lymphomagenesis is totally unknown. To explore this, we investigated somatic mutations of 17 genes and IGHV usage in 179 MALT lymphomas from various sites. We showed that: 1) there was a significant association between the biased usage of IGHV4-34 (binds to the carbohydrate I/i antigens) and inactivating mutation of TNFAIP3 (encoding a global negative regulator of the canonical NF-B pathway) in ocular adnexal MALT lymphoma; 2) IGHV1-69 was significantly overrepresented (54%) in MALT lymphoma of salivary gland, but not associated with mutation in any of the 17 genes investigated; and 3) MALT lymphoma lacked mutations frequently seen in other B-cell lymphomas characterised by constitutive NF-B activities, including CD79B, CARD11, MYD88, TNFRSF11A and TRAF3. Our findings show for the first time a significant association between biased usage of autoreactive IGHV and somatic mutation of NF-B regulators in MALT lymphoma, arguing for their cooperation in sustaining chronic BCR signalling and driving oncogenesis in lymphoma development.

    D Dunn-Walters (2015)The ageing human B cell repertoire: A failure of selection?, In: Clinical & Experimental Immunology183(1)pp. 50-56 Wiley

    B cells undergo a number of different developmental stages, from initial formation of their B cell receptor (BCR) genes to differentiation into antibody-secreting plasma cells. Because the BCR is vital in these differentiation steps, autoreactive and exogenous antigen binding to the BCR exert critical selection pressures to shape the B cell repertoire. Older people are more prone to infectious disease, less able to respond well to vaccination and more likely to have autoreactive antibodies. Here we review evidence of changes in B cell repertoires in older people, which may be a reflection of age-related changes in B cell selection processes.

    H Tabibian-Keissar∗, L Hazanov, G Schiby, N Rosenthal, A Rakovsky, M Michaeli, GL Shahaf, Y Pickman, K Rosenblatt, D Melamed, D Dunn-Walters, R Mehr, I Barshack (2015)Aging affects B-cell antigen receptor repertoire diversity in primary and secondary lymphoid tissues, In: European Journal of Immunology46(2)pp. 480-492 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co

    The elderly immune system is characterized by reduced responses to infections and vaccines, and an increase in the incidence of autoimmune diseases and cancer. Age-related deficits in the immune system may be caused by peripheral homeostatic pressures that limit bone marrow B-cell production or migration to the peripheral lymphoid tissues. Studies of peripheral blood B-cell receptor spectratypes have shown that those of the elderly are characterized by reduced diversity, which is correlated with poor health status. In the present study, we performed for the first time high-throughput sequencing of immunoglobulin genes from archived biopsy samples of primary and secondary lymphoid tissues in old (74 ± 7 years old, range 61—89) versus young (24 ± 5 years old, range 18–45) individuals, analyzed repertoire diversities and compared these to results in peripheral blood. We found reduced repertoire diversity in peripheral blood and lymph node repertoires from old people, while in the old spleen samples the diversity was larger than in the young. There were no differences in somatic hypermutation characteristics between age groups. These results support the hypothesis that age-related immune frailty stems from altered B-cell homeostasis leading to narrower memory B-cell repertoires, rather than changes in somatic hypermutation mechanisms.

    LD Fraser, Y Zhao, PMK Lutalo, DP D’Cruz, J Cason, JS Silva, D Dunn-Walters, S Nayar, AP Cope, J Spencer (2016)Immunoglobulin light chain allelic inclusion in systemic lupus erythematosus, In: European Journal of Immunology45(8)pp. 2409-2419 Wiley

    The principles of allelic exclusion state that each B cell expresses a single light and heavy chain pair. Here, we show that B cells with both kappa and lambda light chains (Igκ and Igλ) are enriched in some patients with the systemic autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but not in the systemic autoimmune disease control granulomatosis with polyangiitis. Detection of dual Igκ and Igλ expression by flow cytometry could not be abolished by acid washing or by DNAse treatment to remove any bound polyclonal antibody or complexes, and was retained after two days in culture. Both surface and intracytoplasmic dual light chain expression was evident by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. We observed reduced frequency of rearrangements of the kappa-deleting element (KDE) in SLE and an inverse correlation between the frequency of KDE rearrangement and the frequency of dual light chain expressing B cells. We propose that dual expression of Igκ and Igλ by a single B cell may occur in some patients with SLE when this may be a consequence of reduced activity of the KDE.

    M Michaeli, H Tabibian-Keissar, G Schiby, G Shahaf, Y Pickman, L Hazanov, K Rosenblatt, D Dunn-Walters, I Barshack, R Mehr (2014)Immunoglobulin gene repertoire diversification and selection in the stomach – from gastritis to gastric lymphomas, In: Frontiers in Immunology5264pp. 1-14 Frontiers Media

    Chronic gastritis is characterized by gastric mucosal inflammation due to autoimmune responses or infection, frequently with Helicobacter pylori. Gastritis with H. pylori background can cause gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma (MALT-L), which sometimes further transforms into diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). However, gastric DLBCL can also be initiated de novo. The mechanisms underlying transformation into DLBCL are not completely understood.We analyzed immunoglobulin repertoires and clonal trees to investigate whether and how immunoglobulin gene repertoires, clonal diversification, and selection in gastritis, gastric MALT-L, and DLBCL differ from each other and from normal responses. The two gastritis types (positive or negative for H. pylori) had similarly diverse repertoires. MALT-L dominant clones (defined as the largest clones in each sample) presented higher diversification and longer mutational histories compared with all other conditions. DLBCL dominant clones displayed lower clonal diversification, suggesting the transforming events are triggered by similar responses in different patients. These results are surprising, as we expected to find similarities between the dominant clones of gastritis and MALT-L and between those of MALT-L and DLBCL.

    V Martin, Y-C Wu, D Kipling, D Dunn-Walters (2015)Age-related aspects of human IgM+ B cell heterogeneity, In: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences1362(B-1 Ce)pp. 153-163 Wiley

    The CD27+IgD+ B cell population, known as IgM memory, reduces with age. It is thought that this population is responsible for pneumococcal polysaccharide T-independent responses, and that the age-related reduction might be partially responsible for the increased susceptibility of older people to bacterial pathogens. There are other IgM+ B cell populations that do not express IgD. We compared the different IgM populations using high-throughput sequencing of the immunoglobulin (Ig) gene repertoire and multidimensional cell phenotyping and found that the different populations of IgM cells, defined by CD27 and IgD expression, have repertoire differences. Some of these differences are likely indicative of different selection pressures in an immune response, although the older individuals were found to have a changed repertoire in naive B cells, which may contribute to some of the changes seen in memory cells. In addition, even within the CD27+IgD+ IgM memory population there are multiple cell types. We show that the level of IgM expression varies substantially and hypothesize that this distinguishes between T-dependent and T-independent types of IgM memory cells. Significant age-related changes in the relative proportions of these populations may exacerbate the reduction in T-independent responders in old age.

    V Martin, Y-C Wu, D Kipling, D Dunn-Walters (2015)Ageing of the B-cell repertoire, In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B370(1676) The Royal Society Publishing

    Older people are more susceptible to infection, less responsive to vaccination and have a more inflammatory immune environment. Using spectratype analysis, we have previously shown that the B-cell repertoire of older people shows evidence of inappropriate clonal expansions in the absence of challenge, and that this loss of B-cell diversity correlates with poor health. Studies on response to vaccination, using both spectratyping and high-throughput sequencing of the repertoire, indicate that older responses to challenge are lacking in magnitude and/or delayed significantly. Also that some of the biologically significant differences may be in different classes of antibody. We have also previously shown that normal young B-cell repertoires can vary between different phenotypic subsets of B cells. In this paper, we present an analysis of immunoglobulin repertoire in different subclasses of antibody in five different populations of B cell, and show how the repertoire in these different groups changes with age. Although some age-related repertoire differences occur in naive cells, before exogenous antigen exposure, we see indications that there is a general dysregulation of the selective forces that shape memory B-cell populations in older people.

    Z Sabouria, P Schofield, K Horikawa, E Spierings, D Kipling, KL Randall, D Langley, B Roome, R Vazquez-Lombardi, R Rouet, J Hermes, TD Chan, R Brink, D Dunn-Walters, D Christ, CC Goodnow (2014)Redemption of autoantibodies on anergic B cells by variable-region glycosylation and mutation away from self-reactivity, In: PNAS111(25)pp. E2567-E2575 National Academy of Sciences

    The best-understood mechanisms for achieving antibody self/nonself discrimination discard self-reactive antibodies before they can be tested for binding microbial antigens, potentially creating holes in the repertoire. Here we provide evidence for a complementary mechanism: retaining autoantibodies in the repertoire displayed as low levels of IgM and high IgD on anergic B cells, masking a varying proportion of autoantibody-binding sites with carbohydrates, and removing their self-reactivity by somatic hypermutation and selection in germinal centers (GCs). Analysis of human antibody sequences by deep sequencing of isotype-switched memory B cells or in IgG antibodies elicited against allogeneic RhD+ erythrocytes, vaccinia virus, rotavirus, or tetanus toxoid provides evidence for reactivation of anergic IgMlow IgD+ IGHV4-34+ B cells and removal of cold agglutinin self-reactivity by hypermutation, often accompanied by mutations that inactivated an N-linked glycosylation sequon in complementarity-determining region 2 (CDR2). In a Hy10 antibody transgenic model where anergic B cells respond to a biophysically defined lysozyme epitope displayed on both foreign and self-antigens, cell transfers revealed that anergic IgMlow IgD+ B cells form twice as many GC progeny as naïve IgMhi IgD+ counterparts. Their GC progeny were rapidly selected for CDR2 mutations that blocked 72% of antigen-binding sites with N-linked glycan, decreased affinity 100-fold, and then cleared the binding sites of blocking glycan. These results provide evidence for a mechanism to acquire self/non-self discrimination by somatic mutation away from self-reactivity, and reveal how varying the efficiency of N-glycosylation provides a mechanism to modulate antibody avidity.

    Y-C Wu, D Kipling, D Dunn-Walters (2015)Assessment of B cell repertoire in humans, In: Methods in Molecular Biology1343pp. 199-218 Humana Press

    The B cell receptor (BCR) repertoire is highly diverse. Repertoire diversity is achieved centrally by somatic recombination of immunoglobulin (Ig) genes and peripherally by somatic hypermutation and Ig heavy chain class-switching. Throughout these processes, there is selection for functional gene rearrangements, selection against gene combinations resulting in self-reactive BCRs, and selection for BCRs with high affinity for exogenous antigens after challenge. Hence, investigation of BCR repertoires from different groups of B cells can provide information on stages of B cell development and shed light on the etiology of B cell pathologies. In most instances, the third complementarity determining region of the Ig heavy chain (CDR-H3) contributes the majority of amino acids to the antibody/antigen binding interface. Although CDR-H3 spectratype analysis provides information on the overall diversity of BCR repertoires, this fairly simple technique analyzes the relative quantities of CDR-H3 regions of each size, within a range of approximately 10–80 bp, without sequence detail and thus is limited in scope. High-throughput sequencing (HTS) techniques on the Roche 454 GS FLX Titanium system, however, can generate a wide coverage of Ig sequences to provide more qualitative data such as V, D, and J usage as well as detailed CDR3 sequence information. Here we present protocols in detail for CDR-H3 spectratype analysis and HTS of human BCR repertoires.

    Andrea Björkman, Likun Du, Mirjam van der Burg, Valerie Cormier-Daire, Guntram Borck, Juan Pié, Britt-Marie Anderlid, Lennart Hammarström, Lena Ström, Jean-Pierre de Villartay, David Kipling, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Qiang Pan-Hammarström (2017)Reduced immunoglobulin gene diversity in patients with Cornelia de Lange syndrome, In: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology141(1)pp. 408-411.e8 Elsevier

    B cells rely on a broad receptor repertoire to provide protection against a wide range of pathogens. This is in part achieved through V(D)J recombination, which, by assembling various combinations of variable (V), diversity (D), and joining (J) genes, creates different IgV regions.1 The recombination processes is initiated by recombination-activating gene (RAG) 1/RAG2 enzymes and requires a functional nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) machinery. B cells can further diversify their IgV regions through somatic hypermutation (SHM) to improve affinity between the antibody and antigen and switch the isotype of antibody produced by class-switch recombination (CSR).

    Christian Margreitter, Hui-Chun Lu, Catherine Townsend, Alexander Stewart, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Franca Fraternali (2018)BRepertoire: A user-friendly web server for analysing antibody repertoire data, In: Nucleic Acids Research46(W1)pp. W264-W270 Oxford University Press (OUP)

    Antibody repertoire analysis by high throughput sequencing is now widely used, but a persisting challenge is enabling immunologists to explore their data to discover discriminating repertoire features for their own particular investigations. Computational methods are necessary for large-scale evaluation of antibody properties. We have developed BRepertoire, a suite of user-friendly web-based software tools for large-scale statistical analyses of repertoire data. The software is able to use data preprocessed by IMGT, and performs statistical and comparative analyses with versatile plotting options. BRepertoire has been designed to operate in various modes, for example analysing sequence-specific V(D)J gene usage, discerning physico-chemical properties of the CDR regions and clustering of clonotypes. Those analyses are performed on the fly by a number of R packages and are deployed by a shiny web platform. The user can download the analysed data in different table formats and save the generated plots as image files ready for publication.We believe BRepertoire to be a versatile analytical tool that complements experimental studies of immune repertoires. To illustrate the server’s functionality, we show use cases including differential gene usage in a vaccination dataset and analysis of CDR3H properties in old and young individuals. The server is accessible under

    Deborah Dunn-Walters, Alexander Stewart, Emma Sinclair, Ilaria Serangeli (2019)Age-related changes in B cells relevant to vaccine responses, In: Interdisciplinary Topics in Gerontology and Geriatrics S. Karger AG, Basel

    Older people have reduced immune responses to infection and vaccination. B cell activation is key for the efficacy of the vaccine response, but there are several age-related changes in B cells which may contribute to the loss of vaccine efficacy. Different subpopulations of B cells contain have different functions and phenotypes. These populations can change as we age; older people have been shown to have fewer “IgM memory” cells, regulatory B cells and plasma cells and more IgD-CD27- “double negative” and “Age-related B cells”. While the overall quantity of antibody in the blood does not change, the quality of the B cell response changes; producing less specific antibodies upon challenge and more autoreactive antibodies. This could be due to changes in selection pressures, as has been demonstrated by repertoire sequencing of different subsets of B cells at different ages. Other changes in antibody repertoire are seen, including: greater levels of IgG2 in older people, and altered IgG1 IGHV gene usage. Since B cells rely on their environment for efficient responses, some of these changes may be due to age-related changes in accessory cells/signals. Other changes appear to be intrinsic to older/aged B cells themselves, such as their tendency to produce greater levels of inflammatory cytokines.

    Julia Sáez de Guinoa, Rebeca Jimeno, Mauro Gaya, David Kipling, María José Garzón, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Carles Ubeda, Patricia Barral (2018)CD1d-mediated lipid presentation by CD11c+ cells regulates intestinal homeostasis, In: The EMBO Journal37(5)e97537pp. 1-17 EMBO Press

    Intestinal homeostasis relies on a continuous dialogue between the commensal bacteria and the immune system. Natural killer T (NKT) cells, which recognize CD1d-restricted microbial lipids and self-lipids, contribute to the regulation of mucosal immunity, yet the mechanisms underlying their functions remain poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that NKT cells respond to intestinal lipids and CD11c+ cells (including dendritic cells (DCs) and macrophages) are essential to mediate lipid presentation within the gut ultimately controlling intestinal NKT cell homeostasis and activation. Conversely, CD1d and NKT cells participate in the control of the intestinal bacteria composition and compartmentalization, in the regulation of the IgA repertoire and in the induction of regulatory T cells within the gut. These changes in intestinal homeostasis require CD1d expression on DC/macrophage populations as mice with conditional deletion of CD1d on CD11c+ cells exhibit dysbiosis and altered immune homeostasis. These results unveil the importance of CD11c+ cells in controlling lipid-dependent immunity in the intestinal compartment and reveal an NKT cell–DC crosstalk as a key mechanism for the regulation of gut homeostasis.

    JMJ Laffy, T Dodev, JA Macpherson, C Townsend, HC Lu, Deborah Dunn-Walters, F Fraternali (2016)Promiscuous antibodies characterised by their physico-chemical properties: From sequence to structure and back, In: Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology128pp. 47-56 Elsevier

    Human B cells produce antibodies, which bind to their cognate antigen based on distinct molecular properties of the antibody CDR loop. We have analysed a set of 10 antibodies showing a clear difference in their binding properties to a panel of antigens, resulting in two subsets of antibodies with a distinct binding phenotype. We call the observed binding multiplicity ‘promiscuous’ and selected physico-chemical CDRH3 characteristics and conformational preferences may characterise these promiscuous antibodies. To classify CDRH3 physico-chemical properties playing a role in their binding properties, we used statistical analyses of the sequences annotated by Kidera factors. To characterise structure-function requirements for antigen binding multiplicity we employed Molecular Modelling and Monte Carlo based coarse-grained simulations. The ability to predict the molecular causes of promiscuous, multi-binding behaviour would greatly improve the efficiency of the therapeutic antibody discovery process.

    Deborah Dunn-Walters, C Townsend, Emma Sinclair, Alexander Stewart (2018)Immunoglobulin gene analysis as a tool for investigating human immune responses, In: Immunological Reviews284(1)pp. 132-147 Wiley

    The human immunoglobulin repertoire is a hugely diverse set of sequences that are formed by processes of gene rearrangement, heavy and light chain gene assortment, class switching and somatic hypermutation. Early B cell development produces diverse IgM and IgD B cell receptors on the B cell surface, resulting in a repertoire that can bind many foreign antigens but which has had self-reactive B cells removed. Later antigen-dependent development processes adjust the antigen affinity of the receptor by somatic hypermutation. The effector mechanism of the antibody is also adjusted, by switching the class of the antibody from IgM to one of seven other classes depending on the required function. There are many instances in human biology where positive and negative selection forces can act to shape the immunoglobulin repertoire and therefore repertoire analysis can provide useful information on infection control, vaccination efficacy, autoimmune diseases and cancer. It can also be used to identify antigen-specific sequences that may be of use in therapeutics. The juxtaposition of lymphocyte development and numerical evaluation of immune repertoires has resulted in the growth of a new sub-speciality in immunology where immunologists and computer scientists/physicists collaborate to assess immune repertoires and develop models of immune action.

    CL Townsend, JMJ Laffy, Y-C Wu, JS O’Hare, V Martin, D Kipling, F Fraternali, Deborah Dunn-Walters (2016)Significant differences in physicochemical properties of human immunoglobulin kappa and lambda CDR3 regions, In: Frontiers in Immunology216 Frontiers Media

    Antibody variable regions are composed of a heavy and a light chain and in humans there are two light chain isotypes: kappa and lambda. Despite their importance in receptor editing, the light chain is often overlooked in the antibody literature, with the focus being on the heavy chain CDR-H3 region. In this paper, we set out to investigate the physicochemical and structural differences between human kappa and lambda light chain CDR regions. We constructed a dataset containing over 29,000 - light chain variable region sequences from IgM-transcribing, newly formed B cells isolated from human bone marrow and peripheral blood. We also used a published human naïve dataset to investigate the CDR-H3 properties of heavy chains paired with kappa and lambda light chains, and probed the Protein Data Bank (PDB) to investigate the structural differences between kappa and lambda antibody CDR regions. We found that kappa and lambda light chains have very different CDR physicochemical and structural properties, whereas the heavy chains with which they are paired do not differ significantly. We also observed that the mean CDR3 N nucleotide addition in the kappa, lambda and heavy chain gene rearrangements are correlated within donors, but can differ between donors. This indicates that TdT may work with differing efficiencies between different people, but the same efficiency in the different classes of immunoglobulin chain within one person. We have observed large differences in the physicochemical and structural properties of kappa and lambda light chain CDR regions. This may reflect different roles in the humoral immune response.

    Jessica Eve Mallaby, Joseph Ng, Alex Stewart, Emma Louise Sinclair, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Uri Hershberg (2022)Chickens, more than humans, focus the diversity of their immunoglobulin genes on the complementarity-determining region but utilise amino acids, indicative of a more cross-reactive antibody repertoire, In: Frontiers in immunology13837246

    The mechanisms of B-cell diversification differ greatly between aves and mammals, but both produce B cells and antibodies capable of supporting an effective immune response. To see how differences in the generation of diversity might affect overall repertoire diversity, we have compared the diversity characteristics of immunoglobulin genes from domestic chickens to those from humans. Both use V(D)J gene rearrangement and somatic hypermutation, but only chickens use somatic gene conversion. A range of diversity analysis tools were used to investigate multiple aspects of amino acid diversity at both the germline and repertoire levels. The effect of differing amino acid usages on antibody characteristics was assessed. At both the germline and repertoire levels, chickens exhibited lower amino acid diversity in comparison to the human immunoglobulin genes, especially outside of the complementarity-determining region (CDR). Chickens were also found to possess much larger and more hydrophilic CDR3s with a higher predicted protein binding potential, suggesting that the antigen-binding site in chicken antibodies is more flexible and more polyreactive than that seen in human antibodies.

    Matt Spick, Holly-May Lewis, Cecile F. Frampas, Katie Longman, Catia Costa, Alexander Stewart, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Danni Greener, George Evetts, Michael J. Wilde, Eleanor Sinclair, Perdita E. Barran, Debra J. Skene, Melanie J. Bailey (2022)An integrated analysis and comparison of serum, saliva and sebum for COVID-19 metabolomics, In: Scientific reports1211867 Nature Portfolio

    Abstract The majority of metabolomics studies to date have utilised blood serum or plasma, biofluids that do not necessarily address the full range of patient pathologies. Here, correlations between serum metabolites, salivary metabolites and sebum lipids are studied for the first time. 83 COVID-19 positive and negative hospitalised participants provided blood serum alongside saliva and sebum samples for analysis by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. Widespread alterations to serum-sebum lipid relationships were observed in COVID-19 positive participants versus negative controls. There was also a marked correlation between sebum lipids and the immunostimulatory hormone dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate in the COVID-19 positive cohort. The biofluids analysed herein were also compared in terms of their ability to differentiate COVID-19 positive participants from controls; serum performed best by multivariate analysis (sensitivity and specificity of 0.97), with the dominant changes in triglyceride and bile acid levels, concordant with other studies identifying dyslipidemia as a hallmark of COVID-19 infection. Sebum performed well (sensitivity 0.92; specificity 0.84), with saliva performing worst (sensitivity 0.78; specificity 0.83). These findings show that alterations to skin lipid profiles coincide with dyslipidaemia in serum. The work also signposts the potential for integrated biofluid analyses to provide insight into the whole-body atlas of pathophysiological conditions.

    Holly-May Lewis, Yufan Liu, Cecile F. Frampas, Katie Longman, Matt Spick, Alexander Stewart, Emma Sinclair, Nora Kasar, Danni Greener, Anthony D. Whetton, Perdita E. Barran, Tao Chen, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Debra J. Skene, Melanie J. Bailey (2022)Metabolomics Markers of COVID-19 Are Dependent on Collection Wave, In: Metabolites12(8)713 MDPI AG

    The effect of COVID-19 infection on the human metabolome has been widely reported, but to date all such studies have focused on a single wave of infection. COVID-19 has generated numerous waves of disease with different clinical presentations, and therefore it is pertinent to explore whether metabolic disturbance changes accordingly, to gain a better understanding of its impact on host metabolism and enable better treatments. This work used a targeted metabolomics platform (Biocrates Life Sciences) to analyze the serum of 164 hospitalized patients, 123 with confirmed positive COVID-19 RT-PCR tests and 41 providing negative tests, across two waves of infection. Seven COVID-19-positive patients also provided longitudinal samples 2–7 months after infection. Changes to metabolites and lipids between positive and negative patients were found to be dependent on collection wave. A machine learning model identified six metabolites that were robust in diagnosing positive patients across both waves of infection: TG (22:1_32:5), TG (18:0_36:3), glutamic acid (Glu), glycolithocholic acid (GLCA), aspartic acid (Asp) and methionine sulfoxide (Met-SO), with an accuracy of 91%. Although some metabolites (TG (18:0_36:3) and Asp) returned to normal after infection, glutamic acid was still dysregulated in the longitudinal samples. This work demonstrates, for the first time, that metabolic dysregulation has partially changed over the course of the pandemic, reflecting changes in variants, clinical presentation and treatment regimes. It also shows that some metabolic changes are robust across waves, and these can differentiate COVID-19-positive individuals from controls in a hospital setting. This research also supports the hypothesis that some metabolic pathways are disrupted several months after COVID-19 infection.

    MATTHEW PAUL SPICK, Amy Campbell, Ivona Baricevic-Jones, JOHANNA VON GERICHTEN, HOLLY-MAY LEWIS, CECILE FRANCE FRAMPAS, Katie Longman, ALEXANDER STEWART, DEBORAH DUNN-WALTERS, DEBRA JEAN SKENE, NOPHAR GEIFMAN, Anthony D. Whetton, Melanie J. Bailey (2022)Multi-Omics Reveals Mechanisms of Partial Modulation of COVID-19 Dysregulation by Glucocorticoid Treatment, In: International journal of molecular sciences23(20)12079 MDPI

    Treatments for COVID-19 infections have improved dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic, and glucocorticoids have been a key tool in improving mortality rates. The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance is for treatment to be targeted only at those requiring oxygen supplementation, however, and the interactions between glucocorticoids and COVID-19 are not completely understood. In this work, a multi-omic analysis of 98 inpatient-recruited participants was performed by quantitative metabolomics (using targeted liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry) and data-independent acquisition proteomics. Both ‘omics datasets were analysed for statistically significant features and pathways differentiating participants whose treatment regimens did or did not include glucocorticoids. Metabolomic differences in glucocorticoid-treated patients included the modulation of cortisol and bile acid concentrations in serum, but no alleviation of serum dyslipidemia or increased amino acid concentrations (including tyrosine and arginine) in the glucocorticoid-treated cohort relative to the untreated cohort. Proteomic pathway analysis indicated neutrophil and platelet degranulation as influenced by glucocorticoid treatment. These results are in keeping with the key role of platelet-associated pathways and neutrophils in COVID-19 pathogenesis and provide opportunity for further understanding of glucocorticoid action. The findings also, however, highlight that glucocorticoids are not fully effective across the wide range of ‘omics dysregulation caused by COVID-19 infections.