Lee Wetzler Ph.D.
Office: 650 Albany St., X-6
Dr. Wetzler’s laboratory investigates innate and adaptive immunity and microbial pathogenesis, especially in regards to vaccine development. One major aspect of this work centers on the pathogenic Neisseria, N. gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis. He has found that the major outer membrane protein of these organisms, the Neisseria porin PorB, can work as an immune adjuvant due to it recognition by the pattern recognition receptor TLR2. He has found that antigen presenting cells, including B cells, dendritic cells and macrophages, are activated by PorB in a TLR2 , TLR1 and MyD88 dependent manner, inducting up regulation of class II MHC, co stimulatory molecule CD86 and other markers of activation. Moreover, MAPK signaling events are required for the up regulation of the expression of these markers, as well as production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. His laboratory together with Dr. Massari is investigating the use of PorB, as a vaccine adjuvant using classic antigens like OVA and more relevant antigens like bacterial capsular polysaccharide. This work has also been extended to investigate the adjuvant activity and mechanism of immune stimulation of the B subunit of cholera toxin. A new thrust of the Wetzler laboratory is investigating the immune response and natural history of Francisella tularensis pulmonary infection in mice and using this data to aid in developing vaccines towards this potential bio-terrorist agent.