Skip to main content

Research Summary

Research Interests

The overall goal of the research in the Boyaka lab is to better understand Mucosal Immunology (immune mechanisms at mucosal surfaces) and apply that knowledge for prevention or treatment of infectious and non-infectious diseases.

The research projects in my lab are articulated along the following three main lines of investigations:

1. Mucosal innate immune responses to microbiome and foreign immune modulators

Epithelial cells provide a physical barrier against microorganisms and foreign products. We study how epithelial cell subsets and classical innate immune cells present at mucosal surfaces respond to commensal microbial communities, microbial toxins, and other immune regulators produced by pathogens to alter homeostasis.

2. Adjuvants and vaccination strategies for induction of mucosal immunity including mucosal IgA responses

Most infectious pathogens enter the host via mucosal surfaces, which are not efficiently protected by systemic immunity and serum IgG responses achieved by injected vaccines. To provide a first line of protection at these entry ports, we study and develop vaccine adjuvants as well as needle-free vaccination strategies to induce pathogen-specific immunity at preferred mucosal surfaces including secretory IgA.

  • Martin, T. L., J. Jee, E. Kim, H. E. Steiner, E. Cormet-Boyaka, and P. N. Boyaka. 2017. Sublingual targeting of STING with 3'3'3-cGAMP promotes systemic and mucosal immunity against anthrax toxins. Vaccine In press. PMID: 28343781
  • Jee J, Bonnegarde-Bernard A, Duverger A, Iwakura Y, Cormet-Boyaka E, Martin TL, Steiner HE, Bachman RC, Boyaka PN. Neutrophils negatively regulate induction of mucosal IgA responses after sublingual immunization. Mucosal Immunol. 2015 Jul;8(4):735-45. PMID: 25563500; PMCID: PMC4481173.
  • Duverger A, Carré JM, Jee J, Leppla SH, Cormet-Boyaka E, Tang WJ, Tomé D, Boyaka PN. Contributions of edema factor and protective antigen to the induction of protective immunity by Bacillus anthracis edema toxin as an intranasal adjuvant. J Immunol. 2010 Nov 15;185(10):5943-52. PMID: 20952678; PMCID: PMC4053574.

3. Mucosal allergic responses

Like exposure to pathogens, the host encounters allergens at mucosal surfaces and the skin. We study innate mechanisms that control allergic sensitization and allergic responses in the gastrointestinal tract and their regulation by commensal microbial communities and xenobiotics. Another focus of these studies is the Gut-Lung Axis, and mechanisms underlying allergic inflammatory responses is the airways following allergic sensitization in the gut.

  • Bonnegarde-Bernard A, Jee J, Fial MJ, Aeffner F, Cormet-Boyaka E, Davis IC, Lin M, Tomé D, Karin M, Sun Y, Boyaka PN. IKKβ in intestinal epithelial cells regulates allergen-specific IgA and allergic inflammation at distant mucosal sites. Mucosal Immunol. 2014 Mar;7(2):257-67. PMID: 23839064; PMCID: PMC4053573.
  • Bonnegarde-Bernard A, Jee J, Fial MJ, Steiner H, DiBartola S, Davis IC, Cormet-Boyaka E, Tomé D, Boyaka PN. Routes of allergic sensitization and myeloid cell IKKβ differentially regulate antibody responses and allergic airway inflammation in male and female mice. PLoS One. 2014 Mar 25;9(3):e92307. PMID: 24667561; PMCID: PMC3965427.