Wendy A Howard

King's College London, Londinium, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (7)19.47 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Young patients with myasthenia gravis (MG) frequently have ectopic GC in their thymus. We investigated these ectopic GC by microdissection of GC B cells and analysis of their Ig gene characteristics, in comparison to normal GC. CDR3 length distribution, a measure of clonal variability, and Ig gene family usage were similar in MG and normal tonsil samples. Lineage tree analysis demonstrated similar diversification and mutations per cell compared with normal control trees. Mutations were observed in the framework regions, responsible for the structural integrity of the BCR; however, these mutations were mostly conservative or neutral, confirming that a functional BCR is conserved in MG. In the CDR, responsible for Ag binding, selection against replacement mutations was revealed. This may indicate that the MG clones analyzed are already highly Ag-specific, and therefore potential affinity-reducing replacement mutations in the CDR3 are not propagated, due to Ag-driven selection. Somatic hypermutation (SHM) targeting motifs and aa substitution preferences in MG were similar to those of normal controls. Overall, these results suggest that B cells in the ectopic GC in MG appear to undergo normal diversification and selection, in spite of the chronic nature and different environment of the response.
    European Journal of Immunology 04/2010; 40(4):1150-61. · 4.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There is very little change in the quantity of antibodies people produce, of any isotype, with age. However, there is a change in the quality of the antibody response. Older people produce fewer antibodies that are specific for the activating pathogen or vaccine. At the same time, the number of nonspecific antibodies increases. Quite often these antibodies have self-reactivity (e.g., anti-dsDNA). The appearance of these antibodies is not associated with pathogenic autoimmune disease, although it is true that the incidence of some autoimmune diseases increases with age. The authors postulate that the process of antibody affinity maturation is compromised in old age. No evidence was found that the process of hypermutation is compromised with age. However, using graph theory to study the dynamics of a germinal center selection process, a decrease in the extent of selection occurring in the germinal centers of mucosal tissue was observed with age. This is a tissue-specific phenomenon because the decrease was not seen in the germinal centers of spleen. Because selection of highly specific cells in the germinal center depends on a number of factors (number and quality of founder cells, help from T cells, and follicular dendritic cells) these need to be investigated further to determine what is needed to improve the affinity mutation process.
    Rejuvenation Research 02/2006; 9(1):117-25. · 2.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The combined processes of immunoglobulin (IG) gene rearrangement and somatic hypermutation allow for the creation of an extremely diverse antibody repertoire. Knowledge of the germline sequence of the IG genes is required so that hypermutation and the affinity matured humoral response can be properly studied. Variable region genes can be arranged into subgroups; in humans, there are 11 IGLV subgroups and 6 IGKV subgroups. The rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) is a relevant non-human primate model for human immunological systems. A number of macaque IGHV, IGHD and IGHJ genes have already been reported. We have also previously reported a number of macaque IGKV genes. Here we report the isolation of new macaque IGLV genes by polymerase chain reaction amplification from macaque genomic DNA using primers based on the human sequences. Nine IGLV1, 10 IGLV2, 21 IGLV3, 5 IGLV4 and 7 IGLV5 germline genes for the macaque were found, the open-reading frames of which exhibit high homology to their human counterparts (>89.3, >88.6, >89.0, >94.7 and >87.1%, respectively).
    Immunogenetics 10/2005; 57(9):655-64. · 2.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The combined processes of immunoglobulin (IG) gene rearrangement and somatic hypermutation allow for the creation of an extremely diverse antibody repertoire. Knowledge of the germline sequence of the IG genes is required so that hypermutation and the affinity matured humoral response can be properly studied. Variable region genes can be arranged into subgroups; in humans, there are 11 IGLV subgroups and six IGKV subgroups. The rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) is a relevant non-human primate model for human immunological systems. A number of macaque IGHV, IGHD and IGHJ genes have already been reported, but only one light-chain germline gene has been published so far. Here we report the isolation of new macaque IGKV genes by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification from macaque genomic DNA using primers based on the human sequences. Twenty-eight IGKV1, 22 IGKV2 and 12 IGKV3 germline genes for the macaque were found, the open reading frames of which exhibit high homology to their human counterparts (>96, >99 and >96%, respectively).
    Immunogenetics 05/2005; 57(3-4):210-8. · 2.89 Impact Factor
  • Mechanisms of Ageing and Development. 12/2004; 125(12):851–852.
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    ABSTRACT: The diversity of the antibody response is achieved, in part, by rearrangement of different immunoglobulin (Ig) genes. The Ig heavy chain is made up of a variable region (IGHV), a diversity region (IGHD) and a joining region (IGHJ). Human germline IGHV genes have been grouped into seven multigene subgroups. Size and usage of these subgroups is not equal, the IGHV3 subgroup is the most commonly used (36%), followed by IGHV1/7 (26%), then IGHV4, IGHV5, IGHV2, IGHV6 (15%, 12%, 4%, 3% respectively). The rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) is a useful non-human primate model for studies of infection and the database of germline Ig genes for the macaque is gradually growing to become a useful tool in the study of B-cell responses. The proportions of IGHV subgroup usage in the macaque are similar to those in man. Representatives from IGHV3 and IGHV4 subgroups for the macaque have been published, as have germline sequences of the IGHD and IGHJ genes. However, to date there have been no sequences published from the second largest IGHV subgroup, IGHV1. We report the isolation and sequencing of a genomic fragment containing an IGHV1 gene from the macaque. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers designed from this sequence enabled us to amplify and sequence 25 new IGHV1 germline genes. We also isolated two IGHV7 genes, using the same primers, and two IGHV5 genes, using human IGHV5 primers.
    Immunogenetics 04/2003; 54(12):867-73. · 2.89 Impact Factor
  • Immunogenetics 57(10). · 2.89 Impact Factor