Trefoil Factor Proteins Modulate Host Immunity against Hookworms

Sponsor: Burroughs Wellcome Fund

Location(s): United States


The Herbert lab is investigating how mucosal epithelia and macrophages function together to maintain and restore pulmonary function under steady-state and infectious conditions.  Our main project centers upon Trefoil factor proteins, a largely enigmatic family of mucosal cytokines, in controlling immunity at the mucosal interface.  Recent evidence shows that TFF proteins regulate members of the Wnt family of glycoprotein’s. Given the central role of Wnt’s in epithelial differentiation and regeneration, our work brings a clearer understanding of how Trefoil factor signaling controls barrier integrity through modulation of Wnt signaling. One of our most recent findings is the demonstration that TFF2 is expressed within various macrophage populations of humans and mice and promotes a wound healing/M2 phenotype. Our generation of a novel co-culture system called the macrophage-epithelial repair assay (MERA), which uses primary tracheal epithelia and tissue macrophages has facilitated the discovery that TFF2 interfaces with the Wnt pathway to facilitate epithelial regeneration.