Sean Stevens

Regeneron, Terryville, New York, United States

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Publications (17)207.25 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Mice genetically engineered to be humanized for their Ig genes allow for human antibody responses within a mouse background (HumAb mice), providing a valuable platform for the generation of fully human therapeutic antibodies. Unfortunately, existing HumAb mice do not have fully functional immune systems, perhaps because of the manner in which their genetic humanization was carried out. Heretofore, HumAb mice have been generated by disrupting the endogenous mouse Ig genes and simultaneously introducing human Ig transgenes at a different and random location; KO-plus-transgenic humanization. As we describe in the companion paper, we attempted to make mice that more efficiently use human variable region segments in their humoral responses by precisely replacing 6 Mb of mouse Ig heavy and kappa light variable region germ-line gene segments with their human counterparts while leaving the mouse constant regions intact, using a unique in situ humanization approach. We reasoned the introduced human variable region gene segments would function indistinguishably in their new genetic location, whereas the retained mouse constant regions would allow for optimal interactions and selection of the resulting antibodies within the mouse environment. We show that these mice, termed VelocImmune mice because they were generated using VelociGene technology, efficiently produce human:mouse hybrid antibodies (that are rapidly convertible to fully human antibodies) and have fully functional humoral immune systems indistinguishable from those of WT mice. The efficiency of the VelocImmune approach is confirmed by the rapid progression of 10 different fully human antibodies into human clinical trials.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Genetic humanization, which involves replacing mouse genes with their human counterparts, can create powerful animal models for the study of human genes and diseases. One important example of genetic humanization involves mice humanized for their Ig genes, allowing for human antibody responses within a mouse background (HumAb mice) and also providing a valuable platform for the generation of fully human antibodies as therapeutics. However, existing HumAb mice do not have fully functional immune systems, perhaps because of the manner in which they were genetically humanized. Heretofore, most genetic humanizations have involved disruption of the endogenous mouse gene with simultaneous introduction of a human transgene at a new and random location (so-called KO-plus-transgenic humanization). More recent efforts have attempted to replace mouse genes with their human counterparts at the same genetic location (in situ humanization), but such efforts involved laborious procedures and were limited in size and precision. We describe a general and efficient method for very large, in situ, and precise genetic humanization using large compound bacterial artificial chromosome-based targeting vectors introduced into mouse ES cells. We applied this method to genetically humanize 3-Mb segments of both the mouse heavy and κ light chain Ig loci, by far the largest genetic humanizations ever described. This paper provides a detailed description of our genetic humanization approach, and the companion paper reports that the humoral immune systems of mice bearing these genetically humanized loci function as efficiently as those of WT mice.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Conditional mutagenesis is becoming a method of choice for studying gene function, but constructing conditional alleles is often laborious, limited by target gene structure, and at times, prone to incomplete conditional ablation. To address these issues, we developed a technology termed conditionals by inversion (COIN). Before activation, COINs contain an inverted module (COIN module) that lies inertly within the antisense strand of a resident gene. When inverted into the sense strand by a site-specific recombinase, the COIN module causes termination of the target gene's transcription and simultaneously provides a reporter for tracking this event. COIN modules can be inserted into natural introns (intronic COINs) or directly into coding exons as part of an artificial intron (exonic COINs), greatly simplifying allele design and increasing flexibility over previous conditional KO approaches. Detailed analysis of over 20 COIN alleles establishes the reliability of the method and its broad applicability to any gene, regardless of exon-intron structure. Our extensive testing provides rules that help ensure success of this approach and also explains why other currently available conditional approaches often fail to function optimally. Finally, the ability to split exons using the COIN's artificial intron opens up engineering modalities for the generation of multifunctional alleles.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Skin wound repair requires complex and highly coordinated interactions between keratinocytes, fibroblasts, and immune cells to restore the epidermal barrier and tissue architecture after acute injury. The cytokine IL-22 mediates unidirectional signaling from immune cells to epithelial cells during injury of peripheral tissues such as the liver and colon, where IL-22 causes epithelial cells to produce antibacterial proteins, express mucins, and enhance epithelial regeneration. In this study, we used IL-22(-/-) mice to investigate the in vivo role for IL-22 in acute skin wounding. We found that IL-22(-/-) mice displayed major defects in the skin's dermal compartment after full-thickness wounding. We also found that IL-22 signaling is active in fibroblasts, using in vitro assays with primary fibroblasts, and that IL-22 directs extracellular matrix (ECM) gene expression and myofibroblast differentiation both in vitro and in vivo. These data define roles of IL-22 beyond epithelial cross talk, and suggest that IL-22 has a previously unidentified role in skin repair by mediating interactions between immune cells and fibroblasts.Journal of Investigative Dermatology advance online publication, 6 December 2012; doi:10.1038/jid.2012.463.
    Journal of Investigative Dermatology 12/2012; · 6.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) both self-renew and give rise to all blood cells for the lifetime of an individual. Xenogeneic mouse models are broadly used to study human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell biology in vivo. However, maintenance, differentiation, and function of human hematopoietic cells are suboptimal in these hosts. Thrombopoietin (TPO) has been demonstrated as a crucial cytokine supporting maintenance and self-renewal of HSCs. We generated RAG2(-/-)γ(c)(-/-) mice in which we replaced the gene encoding mouse TPO by its human homolog. Homozygous humanization of TPO led to increased levels of human engraftment in the bone marrow of the hosts, and multilineage differentiation of hematopoietic cells was improved, with an increased ratio of myelomonocytic verus lymphoid lineages. Moreover, maintenance of human stem and progenitor cells was improved, as demonstrated by serial transplantation. Therefore, RAG2(-/-)γ(c)(-/-) TPO-humanized mice represent a useful model to study human hematopoiesis in vivo.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2011; 108(6):2378-83. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mice with a functional human immune system have the potential to allow in vivo studies of human infectious diseases and to enable vaccine testing. To this end, mice need to fully support the development of human immune cells, allow infection with human pathogens, and be capable of mounting effective human immune responses. A major limitation of humanized mice is the poor development and function of human myeloid cells and the absence of human immune responses at mucosal surfaces, such as the lung. To overcome this, we generated human IL-3/GM-CSF knock-in (hIL-3/GM-CSF KI) mice. These mice faithfully expressed human GM-CSF and IL-3 and developed pulmonary alveolar proteinosis because of elimination of mouse GM-CSF. We demonstrate that hIL-3/GM-CSF KI mice engrafted with human CD34(+) hematopoietic cells had improved human myeloid cell reconstitution in the lung. In particular, hIL-3/GM-CSF KI mice supported the development of human alveolar macrophages that partially rescued the pulmonary alveolar proteinosis syndrome. Moreover, human alveolar macrophages mounted correlates of a human innate immune response against influenza virus. The hIL-3/GM-CSF KI mice represent a unique mouse model that permits the study of human mucosal immune responses to lung pathogens.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2011; 108(6):2390-5. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi) causes typhoid fever, a life-threatening human disease. The lack of animal models due to S. Typhi's strict human host specificity has hindered its study and vaccine development. We find that immunodeficient Rag2(-/-) γc(-/-) mice engrafted with human fetal liver hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells are able to support S. Typhi replication and persistent infection. A S. Typhi mutant in a gene required for virulence in humans was unable to replicate in these mice. Another mutant unable to produce typhoid toxin exhibited increased replication, suggesting a role for this toxin in the establishment of persistent infection. Furthermore, infected animals mounted human innate and adaptive immune responses to S. Typhi, resulting in the production of cytokines and pathogen-specific antibodies. We expect that this mouse model will be a useful resource for understanding S. Typhi pathogenesis and for evaluating potential vaccine candidates against typhoid fever.
    Cell host & microbe 10/2010; 8(4):369-76. · 13.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The mechanism by which monosodium urate monohydrate (MSU) crystals intracellularly activate the cryopyrin inflammasome is unknown. The aim of this study was to use a mouse molecular genetics-based approach to test whether the leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domain of cryopyrin is required for MSU crystal-induced inflammation. Cryopyrin-knockout lacZ (Cryo(-Z/-Z)) mice and mice with the cryopyrin LRR domain deleted and fused to the lacZ reporter (Cryo(DeltaLRR Z/DeltaLRR Z)) were generated using bacterial artificial chromosome-based targeting vectors, which allow for large genomic deletions. Bone marrow-derived macrophages from Cryo(DeltaLRR Z/DeltaLRR Z) mice, Cryo(-Z/-Z) mice, and congenic wild-type (WT) mice were challenged with endotoxin-free MSU crystals under serum-free conditions. Phagocytosis and cytokine expression were assessed by flow cytometry and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. MSU crystals also were injected into mouse synovial-like subcutaneous air pouches. The in vivo inflammatory responses were examined. Release of interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), but not CXCL1 and tumor necrosis factor alpha, was impaired in Cryo(DeltaLRR Z/DeltaLRR Z) and Cryo(-Z/-Z) mouse bone marrow-derived macrophages compared with WT mouse bone marrow-derived macrophages in response to not only MSU crystals but also other known stimuli that activate the cryopyrin inflammasome. In addition, a comparable percentage of MSU crystals taken up by each type of bone marrow-derived macrophage was observed. Moreover, total leukocyte infiltration in the air pouch and IL-1beta production were attenuated in Cryo(-Z/-Z) and Cryo(DeltaLRR Z/DeltaLRR Z) mice at 6 hours postinjection of MSU crystals compared with WT mice. MSU crystal-induced inflammatory responses were comparably attenuated both in vitro and in vivo in Cryo(DeltaLRR Z/DeltaLRR Z) and Cryo(-Z/-Z) mice. Hence, the LRR domain of cryopyrin plays a role in mediating MSU crystal-induced inflammation in this model.
    Arthritis & Rheumatology 07/2010; 62(7):2170-9. · 7.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Over 800 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis viruses, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and malaria, resulting in more than 5 million deaths annually. Here we discuss the potential and challenges of humanized mouse models for developing effective and affordable therapies and vaccines, which are desperately needed to combat these diseases.
    Cell host & microbe 08/2009; 6(1):5-9. · 13.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Monosodium urate (MSU) and calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate (CPPD) crystal-induced interleukin 1 beta (IL1beta) release contributes to inflammation in subcutaneous air pouch and peritoneal models of acute gout and pseudogout. However, consequences of IL1 inhibition have not been explored in more clinically relevant models of crystal-induced arthritis. To develop a novel mouse model of acute gouty ankle arthritis and use it to assess the effects of genetic deletion of IL1 receptor type (IL1R1) and of exogenous mIL1 Trap (a high-affinity blocker of mouse IL1alpha and IL1beta) on pain, synovitis and systemic inflammatory biomarkers. MSU crystals were injected into the mouse ankle joint and pain and ankle swelling were measured over 4 days. The effects of IL1 inhibition were determined in this model, and in the comparator models of crystal-induced peritonitis and subcutaneous air pouch inflammation. Both IL1R1-null mice and mice pretreated with mIL1 Trap showed reduced neutrophil influx in MSU and CPPD crystal-induced peritonitis and air pouch models (p<0.05). In the ankle joint model, both IL1R1 knockout mice and pretreatment with mIL1 Trap were associated with significant reductions in MSU crystal-induced elevations in hyperalgesia, inflammation, serum amyloid A and the levels of multiple inflammatory cytokines and chemokines (p<0.05). Additionally, it was found that administration of mIL1 Trap after MSU crystal injection reduced established hyperalgesia and ankle swelling. IL1 inhibition both prevented and relieved pain and ankle joint inflammation in response to intra-articular MSU crystals in mice. Results suggested that IL1 Trap has the potential to both prevent and treat gouty arthritis.
    Annals of the rheumatic diseases 07/2009; 68(10):1602-8. · 8.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Differentiation and recruitment of alternatively activated macrophages (AAMacs) are hallmarks of several inflammatory conditions associated with infection, allergy, diabetes, and cancer. AAMacs are defined by the expression of Arginase 1, chitinase-like molecules, and resistin-like molecule (RELM) alpha/FIZZ1; however, the influence of these molecules on the development, progression, or resolution of inflammatory diseases is unknown. We describe the generation of RELM-alpha-deficient (Retnla(-/-)) mice and use a model of T helper type 2 (Th2) cytokine-dependent lung inflammation to identify an immunoregulatory role for RELM-alpha. After challenge with Schistosoma mansoni (Sm) eggs, Retnla(-/-) mice developed exacerbated lung inflammation compared with their wild-type counterparts, characterized by excessive pulmonary vascularization, increased size of egg-induced granulomas, and elevated fibrosis. Associated with increased disease severity, Sm egg-challenged Retnla(-/-) mice exhibited elevated expression of pathogen-specific CD4(+) T cell-derived Th2 cytokines. Consistent with immunoregulatory properties, recombinant RELM-alpha could bind to macrophages and effector CD4(+) Th2 cells and inhibited Th2 cytokine production in a Bruton's tyrosine kinase-dependent manner. Additionally, Retnla(-/-) AAMacs promoted exaggerated antigen-specific Th2 cell differentiation. Collectively, these data identify a previously unrecognized role for AAMac-derived RELM-alpha in limiting the pathogenesis of Th2 cytokine-mediated pulmonary inflammation, in part through the regulation of CD4(+) T cell responses.
    Journal of Experimental Medicine 05/2009; 206(4):937-52. · 13.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory disease thought to be mediated by dysfunctional innate and/or adaptive immunity. This aberrant immune response leads to the secretion of harmful cytokines that destroy the epithelium of the gastrointestinal tract and thus cause further inflammation. Interleukin-22 (IL-22) is a T helper 17 (Th17) T cell-associated cytokine that is bifunctional in that it has both proinflammatory and protective effects on tissues depending on the inflammatory context. We show herein that IL-22 protected mice from IBD. Interestingly, not only was this protection mediated by CD4+ T cells, but IL-22-expressing natural killer (NK) cells also conferred protection. In addition, IL-22 expression was differentially regulated between NK cell subsets. Thus, both the innate and adaptive immune responses have developed protective mechanisms to counteract the damaging effects of inflammation on tissues.
    Immunity 01/2009; 29(6):947-57. · 19.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The secreted goblet cell-derived protein resistin-like molecule beta (RELMbeta) has been implicated in divergent functions, including a direct effector function against parasitic helminths and a pathogenic function in promoting inflammation in models of colitis and ileitis. However, whether RELMbeta influences CD4(+) T cell responses in the intestine is unknown. Using a natural model of intestinal inflammation induced by chronic infection with gastrointestinal helminth Trichuris muris, we identify dual functions for RELMbeta in augmenting CD4(+) Th1 cell responses and promoting infection-induced intestinal inflammation. Following exposure to low-dose Trichuris, wild-type C57BL/6 mice exhibit persistent infection associated with robust IFN-gamma production and intestinal inflammation. In contrast, infected RELMbeta(-/-) mice exhibited a significantly reduced expression of parasite-specific CD4(+) T cell-derived IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha and failed to develop Trichuris-induced intestinal inflammation. In in vitro T cell differentiation assays, recombinant RELMbeta activated macrophages to express MHC class II and secrete IL-12/23p40 and enhanced their ability to mediate Ag-specific IFN-gamma expression in CD4(+) T cells. Taken together, these data suggest that goblet cell-macrophage cross-talk, mediated in part by RELMbeta, can promote adaptive CD4(+) T cell responses and chronic inflammation following intestinal helminth infection.
    The Journal of Immunology 11/2008; 181(7):4709-15. · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The interleukin 4 receptor (IL-4R) is a central mediator of T helper type 2 (T(H)2)-mediated disease and associates with either the common gamma-chain to form the type I IL-4R or with the IL-13R alpha1 chain (IL-13Ralpha1) to form the type II IL-4R. Here we used Il13ra1-/- mice to characterize the distinct functions of type I and type II IL-4 receptors in vivo. In contrast to Il4ra-/- mice, which have weak T(H)2 responses, Il13ra1-/- mice had exacerbated T(H)2 responses. Il13ra1-/- mice showed much less mortality after infection with Schistosoma mansoni and much more susceptibility to Nippostrongylus brasiliensis. IL-13Ralpha1 was essential for allergen-induced airway hyperreactivity and mucus hypersecretion but not for fibroblast or alternative macrophage activation. Thus, type I and II IL-4 receptors exert distinct effects on immune responses.
    Nature Immunology 02/2008; 9(1):25-33. · 26.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) family of transcription factors controls calcium signaling in T lymphocytes. In this study, we have identified a crucial regulatory role of the transcription factor NFATc2 in T cell-dependent experimental colitis. Similar to ulcerative colitis in humans, the expression of NFATc2 was up-regulated in oxazolone-induced chronic intestinal inflammation. Furthermore, NFATc2 deficiency suppressed colitis induced by oxazolone administration. This finding was associated with enhanced T cell apoptosis in the lamina propria and strikingly reduced production of IL-6, -13, and -17 by mucosal T lymphocytes. Further studies using knockout mice showed that IL-6, rather than IL-23 and -17, are essential for oxazolone colitis induction. Administration of hyper-IL-6 blocked the protective effects of NFATc2 deficiency in experimental colitis, suggesting that IL-6 signal transduction plays a major pathogenic role in vivo. Finally, adoptive transfer of IL-6 and wild-type T cells demonstrated that oxazolone colitis is critically dependent on IL-6 production by T cells. Collectively, these results define a unique regulatory role for NFATc2 in colitis by controlling mucosal T cell activation in an IL-6-dependent manner. NFATc2 in T cells thus emerges as a potentially new therapeutic target for inflammatory bowel diseases.
    Journal of Experimental Medicine 01/2008; 205(9):2099-2110. · 13.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A useful approach for exploring gene function involves generating mutant mice from genetically modified embryonic stem (ES) cells. Recent advances in genetic engineering of ES cells have shifted the bottleneck in this process to the generation of mice. Conventional injections of ES cells into blastocyst hosts produce F0 generation chimeras that are only partially derived from ES cells, requiring additional breeding to obtain mutant mice that can be phenotyped. The tetraploid complementation approach directly yields mice that are almost entirely derived from ES cells, but it is inefficient, works only with certain hybrid ES cell lines and suffers from nonspecific lethality and abnormalities, complicating phenotypic analyses. Here we show that laser-assisted injection of either inbred or hybrid ES cells into eight cell-stage embryos efficiently yields F0 generation mice that are fully ES cell-derived and healthy, exhibit 100% germline transmission and allow immediate phenotypic analysis, greatly accelerating gene function assignment.
    Nature Biotechnology 02/2007; 25(1):91-9. · 32.44 Impact Factor
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Publication Stats

840 Citations
207.25 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008–2012
    • Regeneron
      Terryville, New York, United States
  • 2011
    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
      Ashburn, Virginia, United States
    • Yale-New Haven Hospital
      New Haven, Connecticut, United States
  • 2009–2011
    • Yale University
      • Department of Immunobiology
      New Haven, CT, United States