Publications by authors named "Meghan Travers"

10 Publications

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Memory B cell repertoire for recognition of evolving SARS-CoV-2 spike.

bioRxiv 2021 Mar 10. Epub 2021 Mar 10.

Memory B cell reserves can generate protective antibodies against repeated SARS-CoV-2 infections, but with an unknown reach from original infection to antigenically drifted variants. We charted memory B cell receptor-encoded monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from 19 COVID-19 convalescent subjects against SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) and found 7 major mAb competition groups against epitopes recurrently targeted across individuals. Inclusion of published and newly determined structures of mAb-S complexes identified corresponding epitopic regions. Group assignment correlated with cross-CoV-reactivity breadth, neutralization potency, and convergent antibody signatures. mAbs that competed for binding the original S isolate bound differentially to S variants, suggesting the protective importance of otherwise-redundant recognition. The results furnish a global atlas of the S-specific memory B cell repertoire and illustrate properties conferring robustness against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.03.10.434840DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7987022PMC
March 2021

Quick COVID-19 Healers Sustain Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Production.

Cell 2020 12 3;183(6):1496-1507.e16. Epub 2020 Nov 3.

Department of Medicine, Division of Allergy and Immunology, Division of Genetics, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA; Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Electronic address:

Antibodies are key immune effectors that confer protection against pathogenic threats. The nature and longevity of the antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 infection are not well defined. We charted longitudinal antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 in 92 subjects after symptomatic COVID-19. Antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 are unimodally distributed over a broad range, with symptom severity correlating directly with virus-specific antibody magnitude. Seventy-six subjects followed longitudinally to ∼100 days demonstrated marked heterogeneity in antibody duration dynamics. Virus-specific IgG decayed substantially in most individuals, whereas a distinct subset had stable or increasing antibody levels in the same time frame despite similar initial antibody magnitudes. These individuals with increasing responses recovered rapidly from symptomatic COVID-19 disease, harbored increased somatic mutations in virus-specific memory B cell antibody genes, and had persistent higher frequencies of previously activated CD4 T cells. These findings illuminate an efficient immune phenotype that connects symptom clearance speed to differential antibody durability dynamics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.10.051DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7608032PMC
December 2020

Viral epitope profiling of COVID-19 patients reveals cross-reactivity and correlates of severity.

Science 2020 11 29;370(6520). Epub 2020 Sep 29.

Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

Understanding humoral responses to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is critical for improving diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. Deep serological profiling of 232 coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients and 190 pre-COVID-19 era controls using VirScan revealed more than 800 epitopes in the SARS-CoV-2 proteome, including 10 epitopes likely recognized by neutralizing antibodies. Preexisting antibodies in controls recognized SARS-CoV-2 ORF1, whereas only COVID-19 patient antibodies primarily recognized spike protein and nucleoprotein. A machine learning model trained on VirScan data predicted SARS-CoV-2 exposure history with 99% sensitivity and 98% specificity; a rapid Luminex-based diagnostic was developed from the most discriminatory SARS-CoV-2 peptides. Individuals with more severe COVID-19 exhibited stronger and broader SARS-CoV-2 responses, weaker antibody responses to prior infections, and higher incidence of cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex virus 1, possibly influenced by demographic covariates. Among hospitalized patients, males produce stronger SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses than females.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.abd4250DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7857405PMC
November 2020

DNA vaccine protection against SARS-CoV-2 in rhesus macaques.

Science 2020 08 20;369(6505):806-811. Epub 2020 May 20.

Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.

The global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has made the development of a vaccine a top biomedical priority. In this study, we developed a series of DNA vaccine candidates expressing different forms of the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein and evaluated them in 35 rhesus macaques. Vaccinated animals developed humoral and cellular immune responses, including neutralizing antibody titers at levels comparable to those found in convalescent humans and macaques infected with SARS-CoV-2. After vaccination, all animals were challenged with SARS-CoV-2, and the vaccine encoding the full-length S protein resulted in >3.1 and >3.7 log reductions in median viral loads in bronchoalveolar lavage and nasal mucosa, respectively, as compared with viral loads in sham controls. Vaccine-elicited neutralizing antibody titers correlated with protective efficacy, suggesting an immune correlate of protection. These data demonstrate vaccine protection against SARS-CoV-2 in nonhuman primates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.abc6284DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7243363PMC
August 2020

DFMO and 5-Azacytidine Increase M1 Macrophages in the Tumor Microenvironment of Murine Ovarian Cancer.

Cancer Res 2019 07 14;79(13):3445-3454. Epub 2019 May 14.

Department of Oncology, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, Maryland.

Although ovarian cancer has a low incidence rate, it remains the most deadly gynecologic malignancy. Previous work has demonstrated that the DNMTi 5-Azacytidine (5AZA-C) activates type I interferon signaling to increase IFNγ T cells and natural killer (NK) cells and reduce the percentage of macrophages in the tumor microenvironment. To improve the efficacy of epigenetic therapy, we hypothesized that the addition of α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), an ornithine decarboxylase inhibitor, may further decrease immunosuppressive cell populations improving outcome. We tested this hypothesis in an immunocompetent mouse model for ovarian cancer and found that , 5AZA-C and DFMO, either alone or in combination, significantly increased survival, decreased tumor burden, and caused recruitment of activated (IFNγ) CD4 T cells, CD8 T cells, and NK cells. The combination therapy had a striking increase in survival when compared with single-agent treatment, despite a smaller difference in recruited lymphocytes. Instead, combination therapy led to a significant decrease in immunosuppressive cells such as M2 polarized macrophages and an increase in tumor-killing M1 macrophages. In this model, depletion of macrophages with a CSF1R-blocking antibody reduced the efficacy of 5AZA-C + DFMO treatment and resulted in fewer M1 macrophages in the tumor microenvironment. These observations suggest our novel combination therapy modifies macrophage polarization in the tumor microenvironment, recruiting M1 macrophages and prolonging survival. SIGNIFICANCE: Combined epigenetic and polyamine-reducing therapy stimulates M1 macrophage polarization in the tumor microenvironment of an ovarian cancer mouse model, resulting in decreased tumor burden and prolonged survival.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-4018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6606334PMC
July 2019

The response of Escherichia coli to the alkylating agents chloroacetaldehyde and styrene oxide.

Mutat Res Genet Toxicol Environ Mutagen 2019 Apr 7;840:1-10. Epub 2019 Feb 7.

Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, 02115 USA. Electronic address:

DNA damage is ubiquitous and can arise from endogenous or exogenous sources. DNA-damaging alkylating agents are present in environmental toxicants as well as in cancer chemotherapy drugs and are a constant threat, which can lead to mutations or cell death. All organisms have multiple DNA repair and DNA damage tolerance pathways to resist the potentially negative effects of exposure to alkylating agents. In bacteria, many of the genes in these pathways are regulated as part of the SOS reponse or the adaptive response. In this work, we probed the cellular responses to the alkylating agents chloroacetaldehyde (CAA), which is a metabolite of 1,2-dichloroethane used to produce polyvinyl chloride, and styrene oxide (SO), a major metabolite of styrene used in the production of polystyrene and other polymers. Vinyl chloride and styrene are produced on an industrial scale of billions of kilograms annually and thus have a high potential for environmental exposure. To identify stress response genes in E. coli that are responsible for tolerance to the reactive metabolites CAA and SO, we used libraries of transcriptional reporters and gene deletion strains. In response to both alkylating agents, genes associated with several different stress pathways were upregulated, including protein, membrane, and oxidative stress, as well as DNA damage. E. coli strains lacking genes involved in base excision repair and nucleotide excision repair were sensitive to SO, whereas strains lacking recA and the SOS gene ybfE were sensitive to both alkylating agents tested. This work indicates the varied systems involved in cellular responses to alkylating agents, and highlights the specific DNA repair genes involved in the responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mrgentox.2019.02.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6525637PMC
April 2019

Targeting CDK9 Reactivates Epigenetically Silenced Genes in Cancer.

Cell 2018 11 25;175(5):1244-1258.e26. Epub 2018 Oct 25.

Fels Institute for Cancer Research, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA. Electronic address:

Cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (CDK9) promotes transcriptional elongation through RNAPII pause release. We now report that CDK9 is also essential for maintaining gene silencing at heterochromatic loci. Through a live cell drug screen with genetic confirmation, we discovered that CDK9 inhibition reactivates epigenetically silenced genes in cancer, leading to restored tumor suppressor gene expression, cell differentiation, and activation of endogenous retrovirus genes. CDK9 inhibition dephosphorylates the SWI/SNF protein BRG1, which contributes to gene reactivation. By optimization through gene expression, we developed a highly selective CDK9 inhibitor (MC180295, IC50 = 5 nM) that has broad anti-cancer activity in vitro and is effective in in vivo cancer models. Additionally, CDK9 inhibition sensitizes to the immune checkpoint inhibitor α-PD-1 in vivo, making it an excellent target for epigenetic therapy of cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2018.09.051DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6247954PMC
November 2018

Epigenetic therapy activates type I interferon signaling in murine ovarian cancer to reduce immunosuppression and tumor burden.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2017 12 4;114(51):E10981-E10990. Epub 2017 Dec 4.

Department of Oncology, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD 21287;

Ovarian cancer is the most lethal of all gynecological cancers, and there is an urgent unmet need to develop new therapies. Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is characterized by an immune suppressive microenvironment, and response of ovarian cancers to immune therapies has thus far been disappointing. We now find, in a mouse model of EOC, that clinically relevant doses of DNA methyltransferase and histone deacetylase inhibitors (DNMTi and HDACi, respectively) reduce the immune suppressive microenvironment through type I IFN signaling and improve response to immune checkpoint therapy. These data indicate that the type I IFN response is required for effective in vivo antitumorigenic actions of the DNMTi 5-azacytidine (AZA). Through type I IFN signaling, AZA increases the numbers of CD45 immune cells and the percentage of active CD8 T and natural killer (NK) cells in the tumor microenvironment, while reducing tumor burden and extending survival. AZA also increases viral defense gene expression in both tumor and immune cells, and reduces the percentage of macrophages and myeloid-derived suppressor cells in the tumor microenvironment. The addition of an HDACi to AZA enhances the modulation of the immune microenvironment, specifically increasing T and NK cell activation and reducing macrophages over AZA treatment alone, while further increasing the survival of the mice. Finally, a triple combination of DNMTi/HDACi plus the immune checkpoint inhibitor α-PD-1 provides the best antitumor effect and longest overall survival, and may be an attractive candidate for future clinical trials in ovarian cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1712514114DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5754782PMC
December 2017

Serum extracellular vesicle depletion processes affect release and infectivity of HIV-1 in culture.

Sci Rep 2017 05 31;7(1):2558. Epub 2017 May 31.

Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, United States.

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are involved in intercellular communication and affect processes including immune and antiviral responses. Blood serum, a common cell culture medium component, is replete with EVs and must be depleted prior to EV-related experiments. The extent to which depletion processes deplete non-EV particles is incompletely understood, but depleted serum is associated with reduced viability and growth in cell culture. Here, we examined whether serum depleted by two methods affected HIV-1 replication. In cell lines, including HIV-1 latency models, increased HIV-1 production was observed, along with changes in cell behavior and viability. Add-back of ultracentrifuge pellets (enriched in EVs but possibly other particles) rescued baseline HIV-1 production. Primary cells were less sensitive to serum depletion processes. Virus produced under processed serum conditions was more infectious. Finally, changes in cellular metabolism, surface markers, and gene expression, but not miRNA profiles, were associated with depleted serum culture. In conclusion, depleted serum conditions have a substantial effect on HIV-1 production and infectivity. Dependence of cell cultures on "whole serum" must be examined carefully along with other experimental variables, keeping in mind that the effects of EVs may be accompanied by or confused with those of closely associated or physically similar particles.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-02908-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5451420PMC
May 2017