How B Lymphocytes Evolve in Programmed and Adaptive Antigenic Environments

Date Thursday November 16, 2017 at 4:00 PM
Location 13-105 CHS (Center for the Health Sciences)
Speaker Shenshen Wang, Ph.D., Department of Physics & Astronomy, UCLA
Sponsoring Dept UCLA Biomathematics
Abstract Clusters of proliferating B cells emerge and compete fiercely for survival in secondary lymphoid tissues upon exposure to antigen. Rapidly mutating pathogens (notably HIV) challenge natural immunity and vaccine design alike; a protective vaccine requires eliciting antibodies capable of neutralizing most antigen variants, thus named broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs). However, in natural settings, bnAbs develop rarely and only after a long and complex B cell maturation process. A key gap in understanding remains between bnAb precursor activation and maturation completion. Using statistical physics models and multi-scale numerical realizations, we study dynamics of B cell affinity maturation in response to predefined discrete antigens and continuously co-evolving ones, respectively, considering complexity of antigen and fluctuations in B cell populations. We identify what differ in the means by which broad neutralization can be achieved in these settings, which in turn reveal intrinsic and external factors that shape adaptation pathways and dictate evolution outcomes.
Flyer 20171116_Shenshen_Wang_flyer.pdf