Laurence Eisenlohr, VMD, PhD

Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Contact InformationThe Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
1107B Abramson Research Center
3615 Civic Center Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4399
Office: 215-590-0952

Research Expertise

Four Areas of Interest:

1. The cell biology of MHC class I-restricted antigen processing and presentation: My laboratory continues to explore the forces that drive the extremely rapid MHC class I-restricted presentation of both cytosolic and endoplasmic reticulum-targeted proteins, and how differential processing could impact both the induction and effector phases of CD8+ T cell responses. We have demonstrated that processing of antigen targeted to the endoplasmic reticulum is both qualitatively and kinetically distinct from antigen targeted to the cytosol. In addition, we have proposed a model in which the almost instantaneous processing of cytosolic antigens is not due to defectiveness on the part of the antigen but, rather, unchaperoned nascent peptide. Our efforts could enhance the rational design of vaccines that are intended to target the CD8+ T cell compartment.

2. The cell biology of MHC class II-restricted antigen processing and presentation: A generally accepted paradigm in fundamental immunology is that CD4+ T cells recognize peptides derived from exogenous (internalized) sources of antigen while CD8+ recognize peptides derived from endogenous sources of antigen (generally, proteins synthesized within the antigen-presenting cell). I have had a longstanding interest in MHC class II-bound peptides derived from endogenous sources of antigen. As a graduate student I reported on an epitope within the influenza neuraminidase (NA) molecule that can only be presented from endogenously produced NA. No amount of exogenous, inactivated virus, displaying abundant amounts of NA at the virion surface, could be converted to class II-bound peptide by antigen-presenting B cells. Subsequently, my laboratory demonstrated that this NA epitope and another residing within the hemagglutinin molecule are produced by a processing pathway that is much more class I-like in character, involving delivery of antigen to the cytosol, and being dependent upon activity of both the proteasome and TAP (transporter associated with antigen processing). Recently, we have assessed the prevalence of this alternative, endogenous MHC class II-restricted antigen processing. We have found that a variety of endogenous processing pathways are the major drivers of the primary CD4+ T cell response to influenza and also rabies. These findings should fundamentally alter a cornerstone principle of basic immunology and, consequently, rational vaccine design. It should also expand the potential scenarios for the development of autoimmune disease and the potential targets for cancer immunotherapy.

3. "Cryptic" MHC Class I-Restricted Epitopes: In MHC class I antigen processing and presentation, my laboratory has also explored the generation and significance of “cryptic” epitopes that are produced by errors during translation. Thus, protein synthesis will occasionally initiate at an internal start codon, the ribosome having failed to decode the first AUG. Likewise, during translation the ribosome can, at low frequency slip into an alternative reading frame. In both cases we have demonstrated that these aberrations may have no biological significance but can be readily recognized by CD8+ T cells. Most recently, we have made a similar observation with respect to the low level of stop codon recoding that is induced in eukaryotic cells by aminoglycoside antibiotics. In this case, we identified by tandem mass spectrometry numerous class I-bound recoded peptides in gentamycin-treated cells but not their control counterparts. Thus, the immunological definition of “self” and “foreign” changes in the presence of these antibiotics, providing a potential mechanism for induction of autoimmunity.

4. Cancer immunotherapy and autoimmunity: For several years we have applied our experience in viral immunity to the very challenging area of cancer immunotherapy. One area of focus is papillary thyroid cancers caused by the RET/PTC3 (RP3) fusion protein. Despite not having a viral etiology, RP3 causes neoantigen formation via aberrant phosphorylation, resulting in the presentation of tumor-specific phosphopeptides (“signal 1” for T cell activation) and activates NF-kappaB, resulting in release of proinflammatory cytokines from tumor cells (the co-stimulatory “signal 2”). First in collaboration with the Rothstein lab and then on our own we have been pursuing the hypothesis that RP3-induced papillary thyroid cancer is relatively benign because it induces a robust, effective T cell response that keeps the cancer in check. We have published evidence to this effect and demonstrated that the transforming and inflammation-inducing signals emanating from RP3 can be functionally dissociated. The work provides an important counterbalance to the notion that inflammation abets cancer progression. In addition, we have collaborated with the Waldman lab at Thomas Jefferson University in exploring viability of the guanalyl cyclase C (GC-C) receptor as a target for metastatic colorectal cancer immunotherapy. GC-C is expressed exclusively in small regions of the central nervous system and on the luminal surfaces of colonic epithelial cells and induces only partial tolerance. Thus, it is an attractive target for therapeutic vaccination. This was demonstrated in mice and a Phase 1 clinical trial in humans with a GC-C-expressing adenovirus is underway.

Itmat Expertise

MHC Class I-restricted antigen processing and presentation
MHC Class II-restricted antigen processing and presentation
Antiviral immunity
Anti-cancer immunity
Vaccine development
T cell functionality

Graduate Groups

Cell and Molecular Biology


BS (Biology), Haverford College , 1979
VMD (Veterinary Medicine), University of Pennsylvania, 1983
PhD (Immunology), University of Pennsylvania, 1988

Specialty Certification

Postgraduate Training

IRTA Fellowship, National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allery and Infectious Diseases, 1988-1991
Staff Fellowship, National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 1991-1991

Awards and Honors

Magill-Rhoads Scholar at Haverford College, 1975-1979
Graduated from Haverford College with High Honors in Biology, 1979
IRTA Fellowship in the Laboratory of Viral Diseases, NIAID, 1988-1991
Staff Fellowship, Laboratory of Viral Diseases, NIAID, 1991
Medical Education Development Award in Microbiology, Thomas Jefferson
University, 1999
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Scholar Award, 1999-2004
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Stohlman Scholar, 2004
Faculty of 1000, Antigen Processing and Recognition Section, 2006
Dean’s Citation for Significant Contributions to the Advancement of Education at Jefferson Medical College, 2006
Thomas Jefferson University Alumni Association Honorary Life Membership, 2006
One of five alumni invited to speak at the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the University of Pennsylvania’s Biomedical Graduate Studies Program., 2007
Yu Yen, M.D., Ph.D. and Sophi Yen Faculty Award for Distinguished Training
in Translational Research, 2012
Thomas Jefferson University Postdoctoral Association Distinguished Mentor
Award, 2014

Memberships and Professional Organizations

American Association of Immunologists, 1995 - Present
Member NCI Site Visit Team, 1996 - 1996
NIH, 1997 - Present
Member NCI Site Visit Team, 1997 - 1997
NIH, Member of Special Study Section, 1998 - 1998
Experimental Virology Study Section, 1999 - 1999
NIH, Experimental Virology Study Section, 1999 - 2002
Biotechnology Engagement Program (BTEP) of the Department of Health and Human Services., 1999 - 2001
American Society for Microbiology, 2001 - Present
Cancer Research UK, 2008 - Present
NIH, Cell Mediated Immunity B (CMIB) Study Section, 2008 - 2010
University of Pennsylvania Center for Aids Research (CFAR), 2009 - Present
Israel Science Foundation, 2010 - Present
Wellcome Trust, 2010 - Present
Netherleands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), 2012 - Present
Dutch Cancer Society, 2012 - Present
Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) – ECHO programme., 2013 - Present
Stichting tegen Kanker / Fondation contre le Cancer, 2014 - Present
NIH, NIAID, 2016 - Present
NIH/NIAID, 2017 - 2017
NIH, Board of Scientific Counselors, 2018 - 2018
NIH/NIAID, 2019 - 2019

Web Links

Selected Publications

Standard screening methods underreport AAV-mediated transduction and gene editing.

Lang Jonathan F, Toulmin Sushila A, Brida Kasey L, Eisenlohr Laurence C, Davidson Beverly L, Nature communications 10(1): 3415, 2019, PMID:31363095

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Impact of epitope density on CD8+ T cell development and function

Cosma GL, Eisenlohr LC, Mol Immunol, 2019, PMID:30948189

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Poor Antigen Processing of Poxvirus Particles Limits CD4 T Cell Recognition and Impacts Immunogenicity of the Inactivated Vaccine.

Forsyth Katherine S, DeHaven Brian, Mendonca Mark, Paul Sinu, Sette Alessandro, Eisenlohr Laurence C, Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950), 2019, PMID:30700590

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Recombinant Poxviruses: Versatile Tools for Immunological Assays

Forsyth KS, Addison MM, Eisenlohr LC, Methods Mol Biol 1988(): 217-248, 2019, PMID:31147943

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Ectromelia virus lacking the E3L ortholog is replication-defective and nonpathogenic but does induce protective immunity in a mouse strain susceptible to lethal mousepox

Frey TR, Forsyth KS, Sheehan MM, De Haven BC, Pevarnik JG, Hand ES, Pizzorno MC, Eisenlohr LC, Hersperger AR, Virology 518(): 335-348, 2018, PMID:29602068

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Nucleoside-modified mRNA vaccines induce potent T follicular helper and germinal center B cell responses

Pardi N, Hogan MJ, Naradikian MS, Parkhouse K, Cain DW, Jones L, Moody MA, Verkerke HP, Myles A, Willis E, LaBranche CC, Montefiori DC, Lobby JL, Saunders KO, Liao HX, Korber BT, Sutherland LL, Scearce RM, Hraber PT, Tombácz I, Muramatsu H, Ni H, Balikov DA, Li C, Mui BL, Tam YK, Krammer F, Karikó K, Polacino P, Eisenlohr LC, Madden TD, Hope MJ, Lewis MG, Lee KK, Hu SL, Hensley SE, Cancro MP, Haynes BF, Weissman D, J. Exp. Med. 215(): 1571-1588, 2018, PMID:29739835

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Differentiation and Protective Capacity of Virus-Specific CD8+ T Cells Suggest Murine Norovirus Persistence in an Immune-Privileged Enteric Niche

Tomov VT, Palko O, Lau CW, Pattekar A, Sun Y, Tacheva R, Bengsch B, Manne S, Cosma GL, Eisenlohr LC, Nice TJ, Virgin HW, Wherry EJ, Immunity 47(4): 723-738, 2017, PMID:29031786

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Somatic HLA Mutations Expose the Role of Class I-Mediated Autoimmunity in Aplastic Anemia and its Clonal Complications

Babushok DV, Duke JL, Xie HM, Stanley N, Atienza J, Perdigones N, Nicholas P, Ferriola D, Li Y, Huang H, Ye W, Morrissette JJD, Kearns J, Porter DL, Podsakoff GM, Eisenlohr LC, Biegel JA, Chou ST, Monos DS, Bessler M, Olson TS, Blood Advances 1(22): 1900, 2017, PMID:28971166

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The elucidation of non-classical MHC class II antigen processing through the study of viral antigens

Ganesan, AVP and Eisenlohr, LC, Current opinion in virology 22(): 71-76, 2017