Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Paul B. McCray, Jr.
The airway epithelium has many roles in innate immunity including detection of pathogens and transmitting danger signals to other cell types. However, its role as a primary defender against infection is not well recognized. We have investigated methods of augmenting antiviral immunity by application of agents that stimulate viral killing, either in the extracellular space or within the cytoplasm. A recently described property of airway epithelial cells is direct oxidative killing of bacteria through the coordination of Duox and lactoperoxidase enzymes. We have exploited this property by supplementing airway cells with the lactoperoxidase substrate iodide to prevent viral infection. A second method for enhancing antiviral defenses is to supply small interfering RNAs
(siRNAs) targeting essential viral genes. We have optimized antiviral siRNAs targeting respiratory syncytial virus by designing them to specifically target positive sense viral RNAs. Finally, we have initiated a project to discover host defense genes that are expressed in either the submucosal glands surface epithelium of human airway. This information will enable a better characterization of the roles for these structures in host defense pathways, and may identify other targets for augmentation of antiviral immunity.
Copyright 2009 Anthony John Fischer