PhD Dissertation Defense by Ariel S. Kniss-James

Event Details
  • Date/Time:
    • Monday April 18, 2016
      10:00 am - 11:00 am
  • Location: Georgia Tech Engineered Biosystems Building (EBB) Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Seminar Room
  • Phone:
  • URL:
  • Email:
  • Fee(s):
  • Extras:
No contact information submitted.

Summary Sentence: Computational and Microfluidic Platforms to Investigate the Role of Ca2+ and ROS in T Cell Activation with Single-Cell Resolution

Full Summary: No summary paragraph submitted.

Advisors: Melissa L. Kemp, PhD (BME, Georgia Institute of Technology)
Hang Lu, PhD (CHBE, Georgia Institute of Technology)

Thesis Committee Members:
Eberhard O. Voit, PhD (BME, Georgia Institute of Technology)
Cheng Zhu, PhD (BME, Georgia Institute of Technology)
Magnus Egerstedt, PhD (ECE, Georgia Institute of Technology)
Dean P. Jones, PhD (Department of Medicine, Emory University)


Computational and Microfluidic Platforms to Investigate the Role of Ca2+ and ROS in T Cell Activation with Single-Cell Resolution



As a key component of the adaptive immune response, T cell lymphocytes are widely studied but often difficult to isolate and visualize for experimentation with single-cell resolution. Intracellular signaling upon activation of the T cell receptor is necessary for proper immune function. The resulting cytosolic calcium (Ca2+) concentration has been shown to oscillate, differentially encoding downstream transcription factors. Additionally, activation also requires the concurrent signaling of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), with implications on protein and channel functions between these signaling networks. However, the direct mechanisms and connections are difficult to analyze due to the fast, dynamic signaling and subcellular localization. Frequency response analysis, originally developed in control engineering for discerning complex, interconnected networks that are difficult to interrogate with bulk measurements, has been shown to be useful for analyzing biological systems and helps with identifying dominant interactions within the network. We utilize this technique to probe intracellular Ca2+ dynamics in the frequency domain to better investigate the relationship between H2O2 and Ca2+. To enable single-cell studies of intracellular T cell signaling dynamics using frequency response analysis, we developed complementary computational and microfluidic tools necessary for single-cell trapping, stimulation, imaging, and analysis. This novel platform provides a systematic approach for analyzing T cell signaling in the frequency domain and is applicable for assessing many biological questions. 

Stimulation with oscillatory H2O2 solutions identified specific input frequencies that facilitate entrainment of Ca2+ signaling and we observe heterogeneous responses within the population, illustrating the necessity of single-cell analysis to understand the realm of potential responses. Jurkat T cells were found to respond robustly to input oscillations of 2.78 mHz frequency, corresponding to a period of 6 minutes. We extended this analysis by switching the input and output signals such that cells were exposed to oscillatory Ca2+ solutions and localized intracellular H2O2 was measured using two variants of the reporter protein, HyPer. Ca2+ stimulated H2O2 dynamics vary depending on location of the reporter within the cell and this difference in signaling dynamics suggests altered regulatory mechanisms for Ca2+-H2O2 crosstalk dependent on subcellular localization. We also report the first investigation of the downstream transcriptional response using smFISH analysis following oscillatory stimulation with cytoplasmic Ca2+signaling. These findings uphold our previous natural frequency result of approximately 2.78 mHz as our smFISH response was maximal at this frequency, connecting the functional consequence with upstream frequency-based signaling. 


In summary, this thesis developed experimental and computational techniques to robustly deliver oscillatory stimulation to cells, monitor the response of various reporters, and analyze dynamic single-cell traces, highlighting a previously unexplored domain of Ca2+ signaling in T cell lymphocytes.

Additional Information

In Campus Calendar

Graduate Studies

Invited Audience
PhD Dissertation Defense
  • Created By: Jacquelyn Strickland
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Apr 6, 2016 - 4:33am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 10:17pm