Michael B Brenner

Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, United States

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Publications (294)3258.87 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Invariant natural killer T cells (iNKT cells) are lipid-sensing innate T cells that are restricted by the antigen-presenting molecule CD1d and express the transcription factor PLZF. iNKT cells accumulate in adipose tissue, where they are anti-inflammatory, but the factors that contribute to their anti-inflammatory nature, as well as their targets in adipose tissue, are unknown. Here we found that iNKT cells in adipose tissue had a unique transcriptional program and produced interleukin 2 (IL-2) and IL-10. Unlike other iNKT cells, they lacked PLZF but expressed the transcription factor E4BP4, which controlled their IL-10 production. The adipose iNKT cells were a tissue-resident population that induced an anti-inflammatory phenotype in macrophages and, through the production of IL-2, controlled the number, proliferation and suppressor function of regulatory T cells (Treg cells) in adipose tissue. Thus, iNKT cells in adipose tissue are unique regulators of immunological homeostasis in this tissue.
    Nature Immunology 12/2014; · 24.97 Impact Factor
  • Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Conference. 2014.; 10/2014
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    ABSTRACT: As part of the Immunological Genome Project (ImmGen), gene expression was determined in unstimulated (circulating) mouse neutrophils and three populations of neutrophils activated in vivo, with comparison among these populations and to other leukocytes. Activation conditions included serum-transfer arthritis (mediated by immune complexes), thioglycollate-induced peritonitis, and uric acid-induced peritonitis. Neutrophils expressed fewer genes than any other leukocyte population studied in ImmGen, and down-regulation of genes related to translation was particularly striking. However, genes with expression relatively specific to neutrophils were also identified, particularly three genes of unknown function: Stfa2l1, Mrgpr2a and Mrgpr2b. Comparison of genes up-regulated in activated neutrophils led to several novel findings: increased expression of genes related to synthesis and use of glutathione and of genes related to uptake and metabolism of modified lipoproteins, particularly in neutrophils elicited by thioglycollate; increased expression of genes for transcription factors in the Nr4a family, only in neutrophils elicited by serum-transfer arthritis; and increased expression of genes important in synthesis of prostaglandins and response to leukotrienes, particularly in neutrophils elicited by uric acid. Up-regulation of genes related to apoptosis, response to microbial products, NFkB family members and their regulators, and MHC class II expression was also seen, in agreement with previous studies. A regulatory model developed from the ImmGen data was used to infer regulatory genes involved in the changes in gene expression during neutrophil activation. Among 64, mostly novel, regulatory genes predicted to influence these changes in gene expression, Irf5 was shown to be important for optimal secretion of IL-10, IP-10, MIP-1α, MIP-1β, and TNF-α by mouse neutrophils in vitro after stimulation through TLR9. This data-set and its analysis using the ImmGen regulatory model provide a basis for additional hypothesis-based research on the importance of changes in gene expression in neutrophils in different conditions.
    PLoS ONE 10/2014; 9(10):e108553. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract To determine the breadth and underpinning of changes in immunocyte gene expression due to genetic variation in mice, we performed, as part of the Immunological Genome Project, gene expression profiling for CD4+ T cells and neutrophils purified from 39 inbred strains of the Mouse Phenome Database. Considering both cell types, a large number of transcripts showed significant variation across the inbred strains, with 22% of the transcriptome varying by 2-fold or more. These included 119 loci with apparent complete loss of function, where the corresponding transcript was not expressed in some of the strains, representing a useful resource of "natural knockouts." We identified 1222 cis-expression quantitative trait loci (cis-eQTL) that control some of this variation. Most (60%) cis-eQTLs were shared between T cells and neutrophils, but a significant portion uniquely impacted one of the cell types, suggesting cell type-specific regulatory mechanisms. Using a conditional regression algorithm, we predicted regulatory interactions between transcription factors and potential targets, and we demonstrated that these predictions overlap with regulatory interactions inferred from transcriptional changes during immunocyte differentiation. Finally, comparison of these and parallel data from CD4+ T cells of healthy humans demonstrated intriguing similarities in variability of a gene's expression: the most variable genes tended to be the same in both species, and there was an overlap in genes subject to strong cis-acting genetic variants. We speculate that this "conservation of variation" reflects a differential constraint on intraspecies variation in expression levels of different genes, either through lower pressure for some genes, or by favoring variability for others.
    The Journal of Immunology 09/2014; · 5.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are a specialized T-cell subset that recognizes lipids as antigens, contributing to immune responses in diverse disease processes. Experimental data suggests that iNKT cells can recognize both microbial and endogenous lipid antigens. Several candidate endogenous lipid antigens have been proposed, although the contextual role of specific antigens during immune responses remains largely unknown. We have previously reported that mammalian glucosylceramides (GlcCers) activate iNKT cells. GlcCers are found in most mammalian tissues, and exist in variable molecular forms that differ mainly in N-acyl fatty acid chain use. In this report, we purified, characterized, and tested the GlcCer fractions from multiple animal species. Although activity was broadly identified in these GlcCer fractions from mammalian sources, we also found activity properties that could not be reconciled by differences in fatty acid chain use. Enzymatic digestion of β-GlcCer and a chromatographic separation method demonstrated that the activity in the GlcCer fraction was limited to a rare component of this fraction, and was not contained within the bulk of β-GlcCer molecular species. Our data suggest that a minor lipid species that copurifies with β-GlcCer in mammals functions as a lipid self antigen for iNKT cells.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
  • Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 08/2014; 193(3):977-92.
  • Gordon Research Conference - Signaling By Adhesion Receptors. 2014.; 06/2014
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    ABSTRACT: Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and subsequent dense-genotyping of associated loci identified over a hundred single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) variants associated with the risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), type 1 diabetes (T1D), and celiac disease (CeD). Immunological and genetic studies suggest a role for CD4-positive effector memory T (CD+ TEM) cells in the pathogenesis of these diseases. To elucidate mechanisms of autoimmune disease alleles, we investigated molecular phenotypes in CD4+ effector memory T cells potentially affected by these variants. In a cohort of genotyped healthy individuals, we isolated high purity CD4+ TEM cells from peripheral blood, then assayed relative abundance, proliferation upon T cell receptor (TCR) stimulation, and the transcription of 215 genes within disease loci before and after stimulation. We identified 46 genes regulated by cis-acting expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL), the majority of which we detected in stimulated cells. Eleven of the 46 genes with eQTLs were previously undetected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Of 96 risk alleles of RA, T1D, and/or CeD in densely genotyped loci, eleven overlapped cis-eQTLs, of which five alleles completely explained the respective signals. A non-coding variant, rs389862A, increased proliferative response (p = 4.75×10-8). In addition, baseline expression of seventeen genes in resting cells reliably predicted proliferative response after TCR stimulation. Strikingly, however, there was no evidence that risk alleles modulated CD4+ TEM abundance or proliferation. Our study underscores the power of examining molecular phenotypes in relevant cells and conditions for understanding pathogenic mechanisms of disease variants.
    PLoS Genetics 06/2014; 10(6):e1004404. · 8.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a chronic autoimmune disease clinically manifesting as progressive fibrosis of the skin and internal organs. Recent microarray studies demonstrated that cadherin 11 (Cad-11) expression is increased in the affected skin of patients with SSc. The purpose of this study was to examine our hypothesis that Cad-11 is a mediator of dermal fibrosis. Biopsy samples of skin from SSc patients and healthy control subjects were used for real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis to assess Cad-11 expression and for immunohistochemistry to determine the expression pattern of Cad-11. To determine whether Cad-11 is a mediator of dermal fibrosis, Cad-11-deficient mice and anti-Cad-11 monoclonal antibodies (mAb) were used in the bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis model. In vitro studies with dermal fibroblasts and bone marrow-derived macrophages were used to determine the mechanisms by which Cad-11 contributes to the development of tissue fibrosis. Levels of messenger RNA for Cad-11 were increased in skin biopsy samples from patients with SSc and correlated with the modified Rodnan skin thickness scores. Cad-11 expression was localized to dermal fibroblasts and macrophages in SSc skin. Cad-11-knockout mice injected with bleomycin had markedly attenuated dermal fibrosis, as quantified by measurements of skin thickness, collagen levels, myofibroblast accumulation, and profibrotic gene expression, in lesional skin as compared to the skin of wild-type mice. In addition, anti-Cad-11 mAb decreased fibrosis at various time points in the bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis model. In vitro studies demonstrated that Cad-11 regulated the production of transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) by macrophages and the migration of fibroblasts. These data demonstrate that Cad-11 is a mediator of dermal fibrosis and TGFβ production and suggest that Cad-11 may be a therapeutic target in SSc.
    Arthritis & rheumatology (Hoboken, N.J.). 04/2014; 66(4):1010-21.
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    ABSTRACT: Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells comprise a lineage of CD1d-restricted glycolipid-reactive T lymphocytes with important roles in host immunity to cancer. iNKT cells indirectly participate in antitumor responses by inducing dendritic cell maturation and producing cytokines that promote tumor clearance by CD8(+) T and NK cells. Although iNKT cells thereby act as potent cellular adjuvants, it is less clear whether they directly control the growth of tumors. To gain insights into the direct contribution of iNKT cells to tumor immune surveillance, we developed in vitro and in vivo systems to selectively examine the antitumor activity of iNKT cells in the absence of other cytolytic effectors. Using the EL4 T-lymphoma cell line as a model, we find that iNKT cells exert robust and specific lysis of tumor cells in vitro in a manner that is differentially-induced by iNKT cell agonists of varying TCR affinities, such as OCH, α-galactosyl ceramide and PBS44. In vitro blockade of CD1d-mediated lipid antigen presentation, disruption of T cell receptor (TCR) signaling, or loss of perforin expression significantly reduce iNKT cell killing. Consistent with these findings, iNKT cell reconstitution of T, B, and NK cell-deficient mice slows EL4 growth in vivo via TCR-CD1d and perforin-dependent mechanisms. Together, these observations establish that iNKT cells are sufficient to control the growth of T-lymphoma in vitro and in vivo. They also suggest that the induction of iNKT cell cytotoxic responses in situ might serve as a more effective strategy to prevent and/or treat CD1d(+) cancers, such as T-lymphoma.
    Cancer immunology research. 01/2014; 2(1):59-69.
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    ABSTRACT: Directional mesenchymal cell invasion in vivo is understood to be a stimulated event and to be regulated by cytokines, chemokines and types of extracellular matrix (ECM). Instead, by focusing on the cellular response to ECM stiffness, we found that soft ECM (low stiffness) itself is sufficient to prevent stable cell-to-cell adherens junction (AJ) formation, up-regulate MMP secretion, promote MMP activity and induce invadosome-like protrusion (ILP) formation. Consistently, similar ILP formation was also detected in a 3D directional invasion assay in soft matrix. Primary human fibroblasts spontaneously form ILPs in a very narrow range of ECM stiffness (0.1 ∼ 0.4 kPa) and such ILP formation is Src family kinase (SFK) dependent. In contrast, spontaneous ILP formation in malignant cancer cells and fibrosarcoma cells occurs across a much wider range of ECM stiffness, and these tumor cell ILPs are also more prominent at lower stiffness. These findings suggest that ECM softness is a natural stimulator for cellular invasiveness.
    Molecular biology of the cell 12/2013; · 5.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Defining and characterizing pathologies of the immune system requires precise and accurate quantification of abundances and functions of cellular subsets via cytometric studies. At this time, data analysis relies on manual gating, which is a major source of variability in large-scale studies. We devised an automated, user-guided method, X-Cyt, which specializes in rapidly and robustly identifying targeted populations of interest in large data sets. We first applied X-Cyt to quantify CD4(+) effector and central memory T cells in 236 samples, demonstrating high concordance with manual analysis (r = 0.91 and 0.95, respectively) and superior performance to other available methods. We then quantified the rare mucosal associated invariant T cell population in 35 samples, achieving manual concordance of 0.98. Finally we characterized the population dynamics of invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells, a particularly rare peripheral lymphocyte, in 110 individuals by assaying 19 markers. We demonstrated that although iNKT cell numbers and marker expression are highly variable in the population, iNKT abundance correlates with sex and age, and the expression of phenotypic and functional markers correlates closely with CD4 expression.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Natural Killer (NK) lymphocytes contain lysosome-related organelles (LROs) known as lytic granules that upon formation of immunological synapse (IS) with the target cell, polarize toward the IS to deliver their contents to the target cell membrane. Here, we have identified small GTP-binding protein, Arl8b, as a critical factor required for NK-cell mediated cytotoxicity. Our findings indicate that Arl8b drives the polarization of lytic granules and MTOC toward the immune synapse between effector NK lymphocytes and target cells. Using a GST-pulldown approach, we identified KIF5B (the heavy chain of kinesin-1) as an interaction partner of Arl8b from NK cell lysates. Previous studies have shown interaction between kinesin-1 and Arl8b is mediated by SifA and kinesin-interacting protein (SKIP) and the tripartite complex drives the anterograde movement of lysosomes. Silencing of both KIF5B and SKIP in NK cells, similar to Arl8b, led to a failure of MTOC-lytic granule polarization to the immune synapse suggesting that Arl8b and kinesin-1 together control this critical step in NK cell cytotoxicity.
    Molecular biology of the cell 10/2013; · 5.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The differentiation of αβT cells from thymic precursors is a complex process essential for adaptive immunity. Here we exploited the breadth of expression data sets from the Immunological Genome Project to analyze how the differentiation of thymic precursors gives rise to mature T cell transcriptomes. We found that early T cell commitment was driven by unexpectedly gradual changes. In contrast, transit through the CD4(+)CD8(+) stage involved a global shutdown of housekeeping genes that is rare among cells of the immune system and correlated tightly with expression of the transcription factor c-Myc. Selection driven by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules promoted a large-scale transcriptional reactivation. We identified distinct signatures that marked cells destined for positive selection versus apoptotic deletion. Differences in the expression of unexpectedly few genes accompanied commitment to the CD4(+) or CD8(+) lineage, a similarity that carried through to peripheral T cells and their activation, demonstrated by mass cytometry phosphoproteomics. The transcripts newly identified as encoding candidate mediators of key transitions help define the 'known unknowns' of thymocyte differentiation.
    Nature Immunology 05/2013; 14(6):619-632. · 24.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells into cells of the immune system has been studied extensively in mammals, but the transcriptional circuitry that controls it is still only partially understood. Here, the Immunological Genome Project gene-expression profiles across mouse immune lineages allowed us to systematically analyze these circuits. To analyze this data set we developed Ontogenet, an algorithm for reconstructing lineage-specific regulation from gene-expression profiles across lineages. Using Ontogenet, we found differentiation stage-specific regulators of mouse hematopoiesis and identified many known hematopoietic regulators and 175 previously unknown candidate regulators, as well as their target genes and the cell types in which they act. Among the previously unknown regulators, we emphasize the role of ETV5 in the differentiation of γδ T cells. As the transcriptional programs of human and mouse cells are highly conserved, it is likely that many lessons learned from the mouse model apply to humans.
    Nature Immunology 04/2013; 14(6):633-643. · 24.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: After infection, many factors coordinate the population expansion and differentiation of CD8(+) effector and memory T cells. Using data of unparalleled breadth from the Immunological Genome Project, we analyzed the CD8(+) T cell transcriptome throughout infection to establish gene-expression signatures and identify putative transcriptional regulators. Notably, we found that the expression of key gene signatures can be used to predict the memory-precursor potential of CD8(+) effector cells. Long-lived memory CD8(+) cells ultimately expressed a small subset of genes shared by natural killer T and γδ T cells. Although distinct inflammatory milieu and T cell precursor frequencies influenced the differentiation of CD8(+) effector and memory populations, core transcriptional signatures were regulated similarly, whether polyclonal or transgenic, and whether responding to bacterial or viral model pathogens. Our results provide insights into the transcriptional regulation that influence memory formation and CD8(+) T cell immunity.
    Nature Immunology 02/2013; · 24.97 Impact Factor
  • Patrick J Brennan, Manfred Brigl, Michael B Brenner
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    ABSTRACT: Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells exist in a 'poised effector' state, which enables them to rapidly produce cytokines following activation. Using a nearly monospecific T cell receptor, they recognize self and foreign lipid antigens presented by CD1d in a conserved manner, but their activation can catalyse a spectrum of polarized immune responses. In this Review, we discuss recent advances in our understanding of the innate-like mechanisms underlying iNKT cell activation and describe how lipid antigens, the inflammatory milieu and interactions with other immune cell subsets regulate the functions of iNKT cells in health and disease.
    Nature Reviews Immunology 01/2013; · 33.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: CD1d-restricted natural killer T (NKT) cells include two major subgroups. The most widely studied are Vα14Jα18(+) invariant NKT (iNKT) cells that recognize the prototypical α-galactosylceramide antigen, whereas the other major group uses diverse T-cell receptor (TCR) α-and β-chains, does not recognize α-galactosylceramide, and is referred to as diverse NKT (dNKT) cells. dNKT cells play important roles during infection and autoimmunity, but the antigens they recognize remain poorly understood. Here, we identified phosphatidylglycerol (PG), diphosphatidylglycerol (DPG, or cardiolipin), and phosphatidylinositol from Mycobacterium tuberculosis or Corynebacterium glutamicum as microbial antigens that stimulated various dNKT, but not iNKT, hybridomas. dNKT hybridomas showed distinct reactivities for diverse antigens. Stimulation of dNKT hybridomas by microbial PG was independent of Toll-like receptor-mediated signaling by antigen-presenting cells and required lipid uptake and/or processing. Furthermore, microbial PG bound to CD1d molecules and plate-bound PG/CD1d complexes stimulated dNKT hybridomas, indicating direct recognition by the dNKT cell TCR. Interestingly, despite structural differences in acyl chain composition between microbial and mammalian PG and DPG, lipids from both sources stimulated dNKT hybridomas, suggesting that presentation of microbial lipids and enhanced availability of stimulatory self-lipids may both contribute to dNKT cell activation during infection.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: How innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) in the thymus and gut become specialized effectors is unclear. The prototypic innate-like γδ T cells (Tγδ17) are a major source of interleukin-17 (IL-17). We demonstrate that Tγδ17 cells are programmed by a gene regulatory network consisting of a quartet of high-mobility group (HMG) box transcription factors, SOX4, SOX13, TCF1, and LEF1, and not by conventional TCR signaling. SOX4 and SOX13 directly regulated the two requisite Tγδ17 cell-specific genes, Rorc and Blk, whereas TCF1 and LEF1 countered the SOX proteins and induced genes of alternate effector subsets. The T cell lineage specification factor TCF1 was also indispensable for the generation of IL-22 producing gut NKp46(+) ILCs and restrained cytokine production by lymphoid tissue inducer-like effectors. These results indicate that similar gene network architecture programs innate sources of IL-17, independent of anatomical origins.
    Immunity 01/2013; 38(4):681-693. · 19.75 Impact Factor
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    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 01/2013; 110(35):14324-14329.

Publication Stats

23k Citations
3,258.87 Total Impact Points


  • 2014
    • Stanford University
      • Department of Computer Science
      Palo Alto, California, United States
  • 1992–2014
    • Brigham and Women's Hospital
      • • Department of Medicine
      • • Division of Rheumatology, Immunology, and Allergy
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1988–2014
    • Harvard Medical School
      • Department of Medicine
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
    • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
      Maryland, United States
  • 2013
    • University of California, San Diego
      • Division of Biological Sciences
      San Diego, CA, United States
  • 2012
    • Asthma Allergy & Immunology Institute
      Southfield, Michigan, United States
  • 2011
    • University of California, San Francisco
      San Francisco, California, United States
  • 2007
    • Kyoto University
      • Institute for Virus Research
      Kyoto, Kyoto-fu, Japan
  • 1985–2006
    • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
      • Department of Cancer Immunology and AIDS
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2003–2005
    • Netherlands Cancer Institute
      Amsterdamo, North Holland, Netherlands
    • McGill University Health Centre
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada
  • 2002
    • Joslin Diabetes Center
      • Section on Immunobiology
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 2000
    • University of Iowa
      • Department of Internal Medicine
      Iowa City, IA, United States
    • Lund University
      Lund, Skåne, Sweden
  • 1989–2000
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • Division of Dermatology
      Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 1998
    • Boston Children's Hospital
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1989–1996
    • Massachusetts General Hospital
      • • Department of Pathology
      • • Department of Molecular Biology
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 1993
    • Harvard University
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States