I’m a founder and executive, an inventor, and immunologist. I also spent a few years at 10x Genomics, where I launched the BEAM product (check out Keith Robison’s blog post), worked on Immune Profiling v2, and developed therapeutic and core intellectual property.
I think antibodies and the adaptive immune system are the singular most powerful and interesting product of evolution. My academic background is in human adaptive immunology and disease thereof. You can find my most recent work on my Google Scholar profile.
The vertebrate adaptive immune system modifies the genome of individual B cells to encode antibodies binding particular antigens. In most mammals, antibodies are composed of a heavy and a light chain which are sequentially generated by recombination of V, D (for heavy chains), J, and C gene segments. Each chain contains three complementarity-determining regions (CDR1-3), contributing to antigen specificity. Certain heavy and light chains are preferred for particular antigens. We considered pairs of B cells sharing the same heavy chain V gene and CDRH3 amino acid sequence and isolated from different donors, also known as public clonotypes. We show that for naive antibodies (not yet adapted to antigens), the probability that they use the same light chain V gene is ~10%, whereas for memory (functional) antibodies it is ~80%. This property of functional antibodies is a phenomenon we call light chain coherence. We also observe it when similar heavy chains recur within a donor. Thus, though naive antibodies appear to recur by chance, the recurrence of functional antibodies reveals surprising constraint and determinism in the processes of V(D)J recombination and immune selection. For most functional antibodies, the heavy chain determines the light chain.
Half a billion years of evolutionary battle forged the vertebrate adaptive immune system, an astonishingly versatile factory for molecules that can adapt to arbitrary attacks. The history of an individual encounter is chronicled within a clonotype: the descendants of a single fully rearranged adaptive immune cell. For B cells, reading this immune history for an individual remains a fundamental challenge of modern immunology. Identification of such clonotypes is a magnificently challenging problem for three reasons: ● The cell history is inferred rather than directly observed: the only available data are the sequences of V(D)J molecules occurring in a sample of cells. ● Each immune receptor is a pair of V(D)J molecules. Identifying these pairs at scale is a technological challenge and cannot be done with perfect accuracy—real samples are mixtures of cells and fragments thereof. ● These molecules can be intensely mutated during the optimization of the response to particular antigens, blurring distinctions between kindred molecules. It is thus impossible to determine clonotypes exactly. All solutions to this problem make a trade-off between sensitivity and specificity; useful solutions must address actual artifacts found in real data. We present enclone1, a system for computing approximate clonotypes from single cell data, and demonstrate its use and value with the 10x Genomics Immune Profiling Solution. To test it, we generate data for 1.6 million individual B cells, from four humans, including deliberately enriched memory cells, to tax the algorithm and provide a resource for the community. We analytically determine the specificity of enclone’s clonotyping algorithm, showing that on this dataset the probability of co-clonotyping two unrelated B cells is around 10-9. We prove that using only heavy chains increases the error rate by two orders of magnitude. enclone comprises a comprehensive toolkit for the analysis and display of immune receptor data. It is ultra-fast, easy to install, has public source code, comes with public data, and is documented at bit.ly/enclone. It has three “flavors” of use: (1) as a command-line tool run from a terminal window, that yields visual output; (2) as a command-line tool that yields parseable output that can be fed to other programs; and (3) as a graphical version (GUI).
B cell receptor (BCR) sequencing is a powerful tool for interrogating immune responses to infection and vaccination, but it provides limited information about the antigen specificity of the sequenced BCRs. Here, we present LIBRA-seq (linking B cell receptor to antigen specificity through sequencing), a technology for high-throughput mapping of paired heavy- and light-chain BCR sequences to their cognate antigen specificities. B cells are mixed with a panel of DNA-barcoded antigens so that both the antigen barcode(s) and BCR sequence are recovered via single-cell next-generation sequencing. Using LIBRA-seq, we mapped the antigen specificity of thousands of B cells from two HIV-infected subjects. The predicted specificities were confirmed for a number of HIV- and influenza-specific antibodies, including known and novel broadly neutralizing antibodies. LIBRA-seq will be an integral tool for antibody discovery and vaccine development efforts against a wide range of antigen targets.
Checkpoint inhibitors produce durable responses in numerous metastatic cancers, but immune-related adverse events (irAEs) complicate and limit their benefit. IrAEs can affect organ systems idiosyncratically; presentations range from mild and self-limited to fulminant and fatal. The molecular mechanisms underlying irAEs are poorly understood. Here, we report a fatal case of encephalitis arising during anti-programmed cell death receptor 1 therapy in a patient with metastatic melanoma. Histologic analyses revealed robust T cell infiltration and prominent programmed death ligand 1 expression. We identified 209 reported cases in global pharmacovigilance databases (across multiple cancer types) of encephalitis associated with checkpoint inhibitor regimens, with a 19% fatality rate. We performed further analyses from the index case and two additional cases to shed light on this recurrent and fulminant irAE. Spatial and multi-omic analyses pinpointed activated memory CD4+ T cells as highly enriched in the inflamed, affected region. We identified a highly oligoclonal T cell receptor repertoire, which we localized to activated memory cytotoxic (CD45RO+GZMB+Ki67+) CD4 cells. We also identified Epstein–Barr virus-specific T cell receptors and EBV+ lymphocytes in the affected region, which we speculate contributed to neural inflammation in the index case. Collectively, the three cases studied here identify CD4+ and CD8+ T cells as culprits of checkpoint inhibitor-associated immune encephalitis.
Adipose tissue (AT) CD4+ and CD8+ T cells contribute to obesity-associated insulin resistance. Prior studies identified conserved T-cell receptor (TCR) chain families in obese AT, but the presence and clonal expansion of specific TCR sequences in obesity has not been assessed. We characterized AT and liver CD8+ and CD4+ TCR repertoires of mice fed a low-fat diet (LFD) and high-fat diet (HFD) using deep sequencing of the TCRβ chain to quantify clonal expansion, gene usage, and CDR3 sequence. In AT CD8+ T cells, HFD reduced TCR diversity, increased the prevalence of public TCR clonotypes, and selected for TCR CDR3 regions enriched in positively charged and less polarized amino acids. Although TCR repertoire alone could distinguish between LFD- and HFD-fed mice, these properties of the CDR3 region of AT CD8+ T cells from HFD-fed mice led us to examine the role of negatively charged and nonpolar isolevuglandin (isoLG) adduct-containing antigen-presenting cells within AT. IsoLG-adducted protein species were significantly higher in AT macrophages of HFD-fed mice; isoLGs were elevated in M2-polarized macrophages, promoting CD8+ T-cell activation. Our findings demonstrate that clonal TCR expansion that favors positively charged CDR3s accompanies HFD-induced obesity, which may be an antigen-driven response to isoLG accumulation in macrophages.
Characterization of single antibody lineages within infected individuals has provided insights into the development of Env-specific antibodies. However, a systems-level understanding of the humoral response against HIV-1 is limited. Here, we interrogated the antibody repertoires of multiple HIV-infected donors from an infection-naive state through acute and chronic infection using next-generation sequencing. This analysis revealed the existence of “public” antibody clonotypes that were shared among multiple HIV-infected individuals. The HIV-1 reactivity for representative antibodies from an identified public clonotype shared by three donors was confirmed. Furthermore, a meta-analysis of publicly available antibody repertoire sequencing datasets revealed antibodies with high sequence identity to known HIV-reactive antibodies, even in repertoires that were reported to be HIV naive. The discovery of public antibody clonotypes in HIV-infected individuals represents an avenue of significant potential for better understanding antibody responses to HIV-1 infection, as well as for clonotype-specific vaccine development.