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Elia Tait Wojno, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

Parasitic diseases caused by infection with helminths, such as whipworm and hookworm, are very common among domestic animals, livestock, and humans. The body’s immune system plays a key role in protecting all species from these diseases by causing inflammation – a process that can result in swelling and pain but that also helps to fend off parasites. However, it might surprise some people to know that the immune system’s response to these tiny invaders has much in common with the inflammation associated with a set of very different disorders: allergic diseases. Dr. Elia Tait Wojno is interested in how the building blocks of the immune system work to help the body during parasite infections and work against the body in allergic disease. Dr. Tait Wojno studies these conditions and immune responses in tissues such as the lung and intestine in mice, dogs, and humans.

Since inflammation caused by the immune system can be helpful or harmful to the body, it must be carefully controlled. The body produces a number of different types of molecules and cells, or factors, that can turn on, turn off, or fine tune inflammation, including a set of molecules known as prostaglandins. During parasite infection or allergy, prostaglandin levels fluctuate, instructing immune cells to increase or decrease inflammation. Dr. Tait Wojno studies one prostaglandin in particular, called prostaglandin D2, and the receptor that recognizes and interacts with it. Like a key and a lock, prostaglandin D2 interacts with the receptor on the outsides of certain types of cells in the immune system and tells them what to do, which can have dramatic effects on the nature of inflammation. Dr. Tait Wojno is seeking to understand how the cycle of interactions between prostaglandin D2, its receptor, and immune cells controls helpful inflammation that protects against parasites and harmful inflammation during allergy.

Prostaglandins are not the only molecules that can control immune responses and inflammation. Another family of factors, called cytokines, is also produced during inflammation. When tissues like the lung or intestine are damaged during parasite infection or exposure to allergens, they produce cytokines to help orchestrate immune responses that attack invaders and repair injured tissues. Most people think of the intestine as a part of the digestive system and the lung as part of the respiratory system, but these tissues are also active players in the immune system. Dr. Tait Wojno is studying how particular cytokines that are made in tissues “talk” to different types of immune cells to regulate inflammation during parasite infection and allergic disease.

In all her work, Dr. Tait Wojno is seeking to understand how a multitude of cues and signals integrate to guide the body’s immune system. A well-tuned immune system should cause controlled inflammation to protect against infections, but should not cause inflammation in response to harmless allergens. Discovering how the immune system and its inflammatory arsenal are regulated could help in the development of better therapies to treat and prevent parasite infections and allergic disease in both people and animals.


Publications:

  1. Tait Wojno, E.D., L.A. Monticelli, S.V. Oberdorf, T. Alenghat, L.C. Osborne, J.J. Thome, A. Budelsky, D.L. Farber, and D. Artis.  (2015).  The prostaglandin D2 receptor CRTH2 regulates accumulation of group 2 innate lymphoid cells in the inflamed lung.  Mucosal Immunology. Abstract.

  2. Kim, B.S.; K. Wang, M.C. Siracusa, S.A. Saenz, J.R. Brestoff, L.A. Monticelli, M. Noti, Tait Wojno, E.D.; T.C. Fung, M. Kubo, and D. Artis.  (2014).  Basophils promote innate lymphoid cell responses in inflamed skin.  Journal of Immunology 193(7):3717-3725. Abstract. Pre-print.

  3. Siracusa, M.C., S. Saenz, E.D. Tait Wojno, B.S. Kim, L.C. Osborne, C.G. Ziegler, A.J. Benitez, K.R. Ruymann, D.L. Farber, P.M. Sleiman, H. Hakonarson, A. Cianferoni, M.-L. Wang, J.M. Spergel, M.R. Comeau, and D. Artis.  (2013).  Thymic stromal lymphopoietin-mediated extramedullary hematopoiesis promotes allergic inflammation.  Immunity 39(6):1158-1170. Abstract. Pre-print.

  4. Tait Wojno, E.D.*, B.S. Kim*, and D. Artis.  (2013).  Innate lymphoid cells and allergic inflammation.  Current Opinion in Immunology 25(6)738-744.  * These authors contributed equally. Abstract. Pre-print.

  5. Tait Wojno, E.D.*, M. Noti*, B.S. Kim, M.C. Siracusa, P.R. Giacomin, M.G. Nair, A.J. Benitez, K.R. Ruymann, A.B. Muir, D.A. Hill, K.R. Chikwava, A.E. Moghaddam, Q.J. Sattentau, A. Alex, C. Zhou, J.H. Yearley, P. Menard-Katcher, M. Kubo, K. Obata-Ninomiya, H. Karasuyama, M.R. Comeau, T. Brown-Whitehorn, R. de Waal Malefyt, P.M. Sleiman, H. Hakonarson, A. Cianferoni, G.W. Falk, M.-L. Wang, J.M. Spergel, and D. Artis.  (2013).  TSLP-elicited basophil responses promote eosinophilic esophagitis. Nature Medicine 19(8):1005-1013.  * These authors contributed equally. Abstract. Pre-print.

  6. Tait Wojno, E.D. and D. Artis.  (2012).  Innate lymphoid cells:  balancing immunity, inflammation, and tissue repair in the intestine.  Cell Host and Microbe 12(4):445-457. Abstract. Pre-print.

  7. Siracusa, M.C., E.D. Tait Wojno, and D. Artis.  (2012).  Functional heterogeneity in the basophil cell lineage.  Advances in Immunology 115:141-159. Abstract. Pre-print.

  8. Harris, T.H.*, E.J. Banigan*, D.A. Christian, C. Konradt, E.D. Tait Wojno, K. Norose, E.H. Wilson, B. John, W. Weninger, A.D. Luster, A.J. Liu, and C.A. Hunter.  (2012).  Generalized Lévy walks and the role of chemokines in migration of effector CD8+ T cells.  Nature 486(7404):545-548.  * These authors contributed equally. Abstract. Pre-print.

  9. Tait Wojno, E.D. and C.A. Hunter.  (2012).  New directions in the basic and translational biology of interleukin-27.  Trends in Immunology 33(2):91-97. Abstract. Pre-print.

  10. Jensen, K.D.C., Y. Wang, E.D. Tait Wojno, A.J. Shastri, K. Hu, L. Cornel, E. Boedec, Y.-C. Ong, Y.H. Chien, C.A. Hunter, J.C. Boothroyd, and J.P.J. Saeij.  (2011).  Toxoplasma polymorphic effectors determine macrophage polarization and intestinal inflammation.  Cell Host and Microbe 9(6):472-483. Abstract. Pre-print.

  11. Tait Wojno, E.D., N. Hosken, J.S. Stumhofer, A.C. O’Hara, E. Mauldin, Q. Fang, L.A. Turka, S.D. Levin, and C.A. Hunter.  (2011).  A role for IL-27 in limiting T regulatory cell populations. The Journal of Immunology 187(1):266-273. Abstract. Pre-print.

  12. Tait, E.D.*, J.S. Stumhofer*, W.J. Quinn III*, N. Hosken, B. Spudy, R. Goenka, C.A. Fielding, A.C. O’Hara, Y. Chen, M.L. Jones, C.J. Saris, S. Rose-John, D.J. Cua, S.A. Jones, M.M. Elloso, J. Grötzinger, M.P. Cancro, S.D. Levin, and C.A. Hunter.  (2010).  A role for IL-27p28 as an antagonist of gp130-mediated signaling.  Nature Immunology 11(12):1119-1126.  * These authors contributed equally. Abstract. Pre-print.

  13. Tait, E.D., K.A. Jordan, T.H. Harris, B. Gregg, C.D. Dupont, E.H. Wilson, M. Pepper, F. Dzierszinski, D.S. Roos, and C.A. Hunter.  (2010).  Virulence of Toxoplasma gondii is associated with distinct dendritic cell responses and reduced numbers of activated CD8+ T cells.  Journal of Immunology 185(3):1502-1512. Abstract. Pre-print.