Research and Clinical Interests

We aim to understand: 1) molecular mechanisms of activation pathways and effector functions of human T cell subsets such as Th17 and regulatory cells, 2) decode transcriptional programs of naïve T cell differentiation into various subsets of memory or effector T cells and, 3) how T cell activation is regulated by suppressor subset of T cells. We are also studying the susceptibility of T cell subsets to HIV infection and how their perturbation contributes to pathogenesis of HIV disease.

Selected Publications

Wan Q, Kozhaya L, Elhed A, Ramesh R, Carlson TJ, Djuretic IM, Sundrud MS, Unutmaz D. Cytokine signals through PI-3 kinase pathway modulate Th17 cytokine production by CCR6+ human memory T cells. J Exp Med. 2011 Aug 29;208(9):1875-87. Epub 2011 Aug 8. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 21825017. doi: 10.1084/jem.20102516.

Mercer F, Kozhaya L, Unutmaz D. Expression and function of TNF and IL-1 receptors on human regulatory T cells. PLoS ONE. 2010 Jan 11;5(1):e8639. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 20066156. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008639. PMCID: PMC2799662.

Jiang Q, Zhang L, Wang R, Jeffrey J, Washburn ML, Brouwer D, Kovalev GI, Unutmaz D, Su L. FoxP3+CD4+ Treg cells play an important role in acute HIV-1 infection in humanized rag2-/-{gamma}C-/- mice in vivo. Blood. 2008 Oct 1;112(7):112(7). Epub 2008 Jun 10. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 18544681. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-03-145946. PMCID: PMC2556621.

Antons AK, Wang R, Kalams SA, Unutmaz D. Suppression of HIV-specific and allogeneic T cell activation by human regulatory T cells is dependent on the strength of signals. PLoS ONE. 2008 Aug 13;3(8):e2952. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 18698349. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002952. PMCID: PMC2490715.

Wang R, Wan Q, Kozhaya L, Fujii H, Unutmaz D. Identification of a regulatory T cell specific cell surface molecule that mediates suppressive signals and induces Foxp3 expression. PLoS ONE. 2008 Jul 16;3(7):e2705. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 18628982. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002705. PMCID: PMC2442191.

Manel N, Unutmaz D, Littman DR. The differentiation of human T(H)-17 cells requires transforming growth factor-beta and induction of the nuclear receptor RORgammat. Nat Immunol. 2008 Jun;9(6):641-9. Epub 2008 May 4. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 18454151. doi: 10.1038/ni.1610.

Antons AK, Wang R, Oswald-Richter K, Tseng M, Arendt CW, Kalams SA, Unutmaz D. Naïve precursors of human regulatory T cells require FoxP3 for suppression and are susceptible to HIV infection. J Immunol. 2008 Jan 15;180(2):764-73. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 18178814.

Oswald-Richter K, Grill, SM, Leelawong M, Tseng M, Kalams S, Hulgan T, Haas DW, Unutmaz D. Identification of a CCR5 expressing T cell subset that is resistant to R5-tropic HIV infection. PLoS Pathog. 2007 Apr;3(4):e58. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 17465678. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.0030058. PMCID: PMC1857714.

Eger KA, Sundrud M, Motsinger AA, Tseng M, VanKaer L, Unutmaz D. Human NKT cells are heterogenous in their capacity to reprogram their effector functions. PLoS ONE. 2006 Dec 20;1:e50. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 17183680. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0000050. PMCID: PMC1762372.

Oswald-Richter K, Torres VJ, Sundrud M, VanCompernolle S, Cover TL, Unutmaz D. Helicobacter pylori VacA toxin inhibits HIV infection of primary human T cells. J Virol. 2006 Dec;80(23):11767-75. Epub 2006 Sep 27. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 17005643. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00213-06. PMCID: PMC1642621.

VanCompernolle SE, Taylor RJ, Oswald-Richter K, Jiang J, Youree BE, Bowie JH, Tyler MJ, Conlon JM, Wade D, Aiken C, Dermody TS, KewalRamani VN, Rollins-Smith LA, Unutmaz D. Antimicrobial peptides from amphibian skin potently inhibit human immunodeficiency virus infection and transfer of virus from dendritic cells to T cells. J Virol. 2005 Sep;79(18):11598-606. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 16140737. doi: 10.1128/JVI.79.18.11598-11606.2005. PMCID: PMC1212620.

Oswald-Richter K, Grill SM, Shariat N, Leelawong M, Sundrud MS, Haas DW, Unutmaz D. HIV infection of naturally occurring and genetically reprogrammed human regulatory T-cells. PLoS Biol. 2004 Jul;2(7):E198. Epub 2004 Jul 13. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 15252446. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0020198. PMCID: PMC449855.

Oswald-Richter K, Grill SM, Leelawong M, Unutmaz D. HIV infection of primary human T cells is determined by tunable thresholds of T cell activation. Eur J Immunol. 2004 Jun;34(6):1705-14. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 15162441. doi: 10.1002/eji.200424892.

Sundrud MS, Grill SM, Ni D, Nagata K, Alkan SS, Subramaniam A, Unutmaz D. Genetic reprogramming of primary human T cells reveals functional plasticity in Th cell differentiation. J Immunol. 2003 Oct 1;171(7):3542-9. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 14500650.

McDonald D, Wu L, Bohks SM, KewalRamani VN, Unutmaz D, Hope TJ. Recruitment of HIV and its receptors to dendritic cell-T cell junctions. Science. 2003 May 23;300(5623):1295-7. Epub 2003 May 1. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 12730499. doi: 10.1126/science.1084238.

Organizational Associations

The American Association of Immunologists (AAI); Elected Member of Henry Kunkel Society; NIH, NIAID, AIDSRRC study section permanent member

Selected Awards

2006 John H. Exton Faculty Award for excellence in research. Vanderbilt University Medical School, Nashville, TN.