In two projects, researchers will design, produce and share altered forms of beta defensins. These altered hBDs will be used to study molecular interactions between beta defensins and key receptors on human cells that the research group had previously identified as important in bolstering innate defenses.
In the third and fourth projects, researchers will identify altered proteins in human epithelial cells from HIV-infected individuals on HAART, examine tissue samples from warts associated with HIV, and find genetic differences between individuals, to explain why some people produce more hBDs than others that could better protect individuals from infections, such as HPV.
According to Weinberg, the projects are highly focused and collaborative and tap the expertise of researchers in innate immunity, defensin biology, structural chemistry, HIV immunology, dermatology, oral medicine and genetics.
Among the researchers' concerns is that prolonged use of HAART and/or low level chronic HIV infection may impact the human innate defense system, and the research team wants to know what happens.
Working with Mark Chance, professor and director of the Case Center for Proteomics and Bioinformatics, McCormick and Santosh Ghosh, postdoctoral fellow, Department of Biological Sciences in the dental school, the group has found significantly reduced protein expression in cells from HIV-infected individuals on HAART that impact the cell's cycle and immune responses.
"We now have proteomic data telling us that there is a dysfunction occurring in the epithelial cells," says Weinberg.
The researchers are interested in understanding what it means from a biological perspective because
|Contact: Susan Griffith|
Case Western Reserve University