Erin J. Adams

Research Summary
Our laboratory is interested in the molecular signals that are used by the immune system to distinguish healthy from unhealthy tissue. Many of our projects focus on “unconventional” T cell recognition, involving γδ T cells, Natural Killer T cells and Muscosal-Associated Invariant T (MAIT) cells and antigen presentation by nonclassical or MHC-like proteins. Our strengths are in biochemistry, structural biology, protein engineering and cellular assays that will reveal the fundamental principles behind how effector cells of the immune system regulate human disease. We have a high level of expertise in studying molecular recognition of T cells, particularly unconventional T cells outside the canonical CD4+/CD8+ lineage and structure function of antigen-presenting molecules.
Molecular Immunology, T Cells, MHC (nonclassical and MHC-like), biochemistry, structural biology
  • UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA, BS Animal Physiology and Neuroscience 06/1993
  • UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, PhD Evolutionary Genetics 06/2001
  • Stanford University, Stanford, CA, Postdoc Molecular Immunology 10/2005
Awards & Honors
  • 1993 - Graduate Cum Laude UC San Diego
  • 1993 - Phi Beta Kappa UC San Diego
  • 2001 - 2004 Cancer Research Institute Postdoc Fellow Stanford University
  • 2007 - 2010 Searle Scholar UChicago
  • 2016 - pres Joseph Regenstein Professorship UChicago
  1. Deaza-modification of MR1 ligands modulates recognition by MR1-restricted T cells. Sci Rep. 2022 Dec 29; 12(1):22539. View in: PubMed

  2. a-Synuclein Sterically Stabilizes Spherical Nanoparticle-Supported Lipid Bilayers. ACS Appl Bio Mater. 2019 Apr 15; 2(4):1413-1419. View in: PubMed

  3. The molecular characterization of antibody binding to a superantigen-like protein from a commensal microbe. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 09 28; 118(39). View in: PubMed

  4. How Tim proteins differentially exploit membrane features to attain robust target sensitivity. Biophys J. 2021 11 02; 120(21):4891-4902. View in: PubMed

  5. Molecular design of the ?dT cell receptor ectodomain encodes biologically fit ligand recognition in the absence of mechanosensing. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 06 29; 118(26). View in: PubMed

  6. Altered selection on a single self-ligand promotes susceptibility to organ-specific T cell infiltration. J Exp Med. 2021 06 07; 218(6). View in: PubMed

  7. Biochemical patterns of antibody polyreactivity revealed through a bioinformatics-based analysis of CDR loops. Elife. 2020 11 10; 9. View in: PubMed

  8. Diversity in recognition and function of human ?d T cells. Immunol Rev. 2020 11; 298(1):134-152. View in: PubMed

  9. Alpaca (Vicugna pacos), the first nonprimate species with a phosphoantigen-reactive V?9Vd2 T cell subset. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 03 24; 117(12):6697-6707. View in: PubMed

  10. Production of MR1 Tetramers Loaded with Microbial Ligands. Methods Mol Biol. 2020; 2098:191-207. View in: PubMed

  11. MAIT cells are imprinted by the microbiota in early life and promote tissue repair. Science. 2019 10 25; 366(6464). View in: PubMed

  12. TCR-pMHC bond conformation controls TCR ligand discrimination. Cell Mol Immunol. 2020 03; 17(3):203-217. View in: PubMed

  13. Casting a wider net: Immunosurveillance by nonclassical MHC molecules. PLoS Pathog. 2019 02; 15(2):e1007567. View in: PubMed

  14. Generation and molecular recognition of melanoma-associated antigen-specific human ?d T cells. Sci Immunol. 2018 12 14; 3(30). View in: PubMed

  15. The Hypervariable Loops of Free TCRs Sample Multiple Distinct Metastable Conformations in Solution. Front Mol Biosci. 2018; 5:95. View in: PubMed

  16. MR1 displays the microbial metabolome driving selective MR1-restricted T cell receptor usage. Sci Immunol. 2018 07 13; 3(25). View in: PubMed

  17. Sensitivity of peripheral membrane proteins to the membrane context: A case study of phosphatidylserine and the TIM proteins. Biochim Biophys Acta Biomembr. 2018 10; 1860(10):2126-2133. View in: PubMed

  18. Butyrophilin3A proteins and V?9Vd2 T cell activation. Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2018 12; 84:65-74. View in: PubMed

  19. Photoelectrochemical modulation of neuronal activity with free-standing coaxial silicon nanowires. Nat Nanotechnol. 2018 03; 13(3):260-266. View in: PubMed

  20. Coupling X-Ray Reflectivity and In Silico Binding to Yield Dynamics of Membrane Recognition by Tim1. Biophys J. 2017 Oct 03; 113(7):1505-1519. View in: PubMed

  21. Phosphoantigen-induced conformational change of butyrophilin 3A1 (BTN3A1) and its implication on V?9Vd2 T cell activation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 08 29; 114(35):E7311-E7320. View in: PubMed

  22. Identification of Natural Regulatory T Cell Epitopes Reveals Convergence on a Dominant Autoantigen. Immunity. 2017 07 18; 47(1):107-117.e8. View in: PubMed

  23. V?9Vd2 T cell activation by strongly agonistic nucleotidic phosphoantigens. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2017 12; 74(23):4353-4367. View in: PubMed

  24. Human Leukocyte Antigen F Presents Peptides and Regulates Immunity through Interactions with NK Cell Receptors. Immunity. 2017 06 20; 46(6):1018-1029.e7. View in: PubMed

  25. A Photo-Crosslinkable Biotin Derivative of the Phosphoantigen (E)-4-Hydroxy-3-Methylbut-2-Enyl Diphosphate (HMBPP) Activates V?9Vd2 T Cells and Binds to the HMBPP Site of BTN3A1. Chemistry. 2017 Sep 04; 23(49):11945-11954. View in: PubMed

  26. MR1-restricted mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells respond to mycobacterial vaccination and infection in nonhuman primates. Mucosal Immunol. 2017 05; 10(3):802-813. View in: PubMed

  27. RhoB Mediates Phosphoantigen Recognition by V?9Vd2?T Cell Receptor. Cell Rep. 2016 05 31; 15(9):1973-85. View in: PubMed

  28. Molecular Analysis of Lipid-Reactive Vd1 ?d T Cells Identified by CD1c Tetramers. J Immunol. 2016 Feb 15; 196(4):1933-42. View in: PubMed

  29. Coevolution of T-cell receptors with MHC and non-MHC ligands. Immunol Rev. 2015 Sep; 267(1):30-55. View in: PubMed

  30. The Role of Mucosal Associated Invariant T Cells in Antimicrobial Immunity. Front Immunol. 2015; 6:344. View in: PubMed

  31. Introduction to Cellular Immunology Special Issue on ?d T cells. Cell Immunol. 2015 Jul; 296(1):1-2. View in: PubMed

  32. Human gamma delta T cells: Evolution and ligand recognition. Cell Immunol. 2015 Jul; 296(1):31-40. View in: PubMed

  33. Sensing of Pyrophosphate Metabolites by V?9Vd2 T Cells. Front Immunol. 2014; 5:688. View in: PubMed

  34. Molecular basis of mycobacterial lipid antigen presentation by CD1c and its recognition by a? T cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Oct 28; 111(43):E4648-57. View in: PubMed

  35. ?d T cell surveillance via CD1 molecules. Trends Immunol. 2014 12; 35(12):613-621. View in: PubMed

  36. High diversity of MIC genes in non-human primates. Immunogenetics. 2014 Oct; 66(9-10):581-7. View in: PubMed

  37. The CD3 conformational change in the ?d T cell receptor is not triggered by antigens but can be enforced to enhance tumor killing. Cell Rep. 2014 Jun 12; 7(5):1704-1715. View in: PubMed

  38. Molecular mechanism for differential recognition of membrane phosphatidylserine by the immune regulatory receptor Tim4. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Apr 15; 111(15):E1463-72. View in: PubMed

  39. The intracellular B30.2 domain of butyrophilin 3A1 binds phosphoantigens to mediate activation of human V?9Vd2 T cells. Immunity. 2014 Apr 17; 40(4):490-500. View in: PubMed

  40. Lipid presentation by human CD1 molecules and the diverse T cell populations that respond to them. Curr Opin Immunol. 2014 Feb; 26:1-6. View in: PubMed

  41. Crystal structure of Vd1 T cell receptor in complex with CD1d-sulfatide shows MHC-like recognition of a self-lipid by human ?d T cells. Immunity. 2013 Dec 12; 39(6):1032-42. View in: PubMed

  42. MAIT recognition of a stimulatory bacterial antigen bound to MR1. J Immunol. 2013 Nov 15; 191(10):5268-77. View in: PubMed

  43. Expression of CD1c enhances human invariant NKT cell activation by a-GalCer. Cancer Immun. 2013; 13:9. View in: PubMed

  44. Highly stereocontrolled total synthesis of ?-D-mannosyl phosphomycoketide: a natural product from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. J Org Chem. 2013 Jun 21; 78(12):5970-86. View in: PubMed

  45. The molecular basis for Mucosal-Associated Invariant T cell recognition of MR1 proteins. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 May 07; 110(19):E1771-8. View in: PubMed

  46. CD1c tetramers detect ex vivo T cell responses to processed phosphomycoketide antigens. J Exp Med. 2013 Apr 08; 210(4):729-41. View in: PubMed

  47. The adaptable major histocompatibility complex (MHC) fold: structure and function of nonclassical and MHC class I-like molecules. Annu Rev Immunol. 2013; 31:529-61. View in: PubMed

  48. Diverse antigen presentation by the Group 1 CD1 molecule, CD1c. Mol Immunol. 2013 Sep; 55(2):182-5. View in: PubMed

  49. The molecular basis for recognition of CD1d/a-galactosylceramide by a human non-Va24 T cell receptor. PLoS Biol. 2012; 10(10):e1001412. View in: PubMed

  50. The yin and yang of CD1d recognition. Nat Immunol. 2012 Sep; 13(9):814-5. View in: PubMed

  51. The molecular basis for modulation of human V?9Vd2 T cell responses by CD277/butyrophilin-3 (BTN3A)-specific antibodies. J Biol Chem. 2012 Sep 21; 287(39):32780-90. View in: PubMed

  52. The majority of CD1d-sulfatide-specific T cells in human blood use a semiinvariant Vd1 TCR. Eur J Immunol. 2012 Sep; 42(9):2505-10. View in: PubMed

  53. Key implication of CD277/butyrophilin-3 (BTN3A) in cellular stress sensing by a major human ?d T-cell subset. Blood. 2012 Sep 13; 120(11):2269-79. View in: PubMed

  54. Lysophospholipid presentation by CD1d and recognition by a human Natural Killer T-cell receptor. EMBO J. 2012 Apr 18; 31(8):2047-59. View in: PubMed

  55. ?d T cell receptors recognize the non-classical major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecule T22 via conserved anchor residues in a MHC peptide-like fashion. J Biol Chem. 2012 Feb 17; 287(8):6035-43. View in: PubMed

  56. Evolution of the V, D, and J gene segments used in the primate gammadelta T-cell receptor reveals a dichotomy of conservation and diversity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jul 19; 108(29):E332-40. View in: PubMed

  57. The immutable recognition of CD1d. Immunity. 2011 Mar 25; 34(3):281-3. View in: PubMed

  58. Although divergent in residues of the peptide binding site, conserved chimpanzee Patr-AL and polymorphic human HLA-A*02 have overlapping peptide-binding repertoires. J Immunol. 2011 Feb 01; 186(3):1575-88. View in: PubMed

  59. The 2.5 ? structure of CD1c in complex with a mycobacterial lipid reveals an open groove ideally suited for diverse antigen presentation. Immunity. 2010 Dec 14; 33(6):853-62. View in: PubMed

  60. Coevolution of killer cell Ig-like receptors with HLA-C to become the major variable regulators of human NK cells. J Immunol. 2010 Oct 01; 185(7):4238-51. View in: PubMed

  61. African-derived genetic polymorphisms in TNFAIP3 mediate risk for autoimmunity. J Immunol. 2010 Jun 15; 184(12):7001-9. View in: PubMed

  62. Inhibitor of DNA binding 3 limits development of murine slam-associated adaptor protein-dependent "innate" gammadelta T cells. PLoS One. 2010 Feb 19; 5(2):e9303. View in: PubMed

  63. Recognition of lyso-phospholipids by human natural killer T lymphocytes. PLoS Biol. 2009 Oct; 7(10):e1000228. View in: PubMed

  64. An autonomous CDR3delta is sufficient for recognition of the nonclassical MHC class I molecules T10 and T22 by gammadelta T cells. Nat Immunol. 2008 Jul; 9(7):777-84. View in: PubMed

  65. Structural elucidation of the m157 mouse cytomegalovirus ligand for Ly49 natural killer cell receptors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jun 12; 104(24):10128-33. View in: PubMed

  66. High-level bacterial secretion of single-chain alphabeta T-cell receptors. J Immunol Methods. 2005 Nov 30; 306(1-2):51-67. View in: PubMed

  67. How the T cell receptor sees antigen--a structural view. Cell. 2005 Aug 12; 122(3):333-6. View in: PubMed

  68. Antigen recognition determinants of gammadelta T cell receptors. Science. 2005 Apr 08; 308(5719):252-5. View in: PubMed

  69. Structure of a gammadelta T cell receptor in complex with the nonclassical MHC T22. Science. 2005 Apr 08; 308(5719):227-31. View in: PubMed

  70. Structure of an autoimmune T cell receptor complexed with class II peptide-MHC: insights into MHC bias and antigen specificity. Immunity. 2005 Jan; 22(1):81-92. View in: PubMed

  71. Evidence that structural rearrangements and/or flexibility during TCR binding can contribute to T cell activation. Mol Cell. 2003 Dec; 12(6):1367-78. View in: PubMed

  72. A T cell receptor goes public. Structure. 2002 Nov; 10(11):1468-9. View in: PubMed

  73. NK cell receptors of the orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus): a pivotal species for tracking the coevolution of killer cell Ig-like receptors with MHC-C. J Immunol. 2002 Jul 01; 169(1):220-9. View in: PubMed

  74. Linkage of Patr-AL to Patr-A and- B in the major histocompatibility complex of the common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). Immunogenetics. 2002 Jun; 54(3):212-5. View in: PubMed

  75. Species-specific evolution of MHC class I genes in the higher primates. Immunol Rev. 2001 Oct; 183:41-64. View in: PubMed

  76. A novel, nonclassical MHC class I molecule specific to the common chimpanzee. J Immunol. 2001 Oct 01; 167(7):3858-69. View in: PubMed

  77. Genomic analysis of common chimpanzee major histocompatibility complex class I genes. Immunogenetics. 2001 Apr; 53(3):200-8. View in: PubMed

  78. Short KIR haplotypes in pygmy chimpanzee (Bonobo) resemble the conserved framework of diverse human KIR haplotypes. J Exp Med. 2001 Jan 01; 193(1):135-46. View in: PubMed

  79. Common chimpanzees have greater diversity than humans at two of the three highly polymorphic MHC class I genes. Immunogenetics. 2000 May; 51(6):410-24. View in: PubMed

  80. Evidence for an HLA-C-like locus in the orangutan Pongo pygmaeus. Immunogenetics. 1999 Sep; 49(10):865-71. View in: PubMed

  81. Analysis of a successful immune response against hepatitis C virus. Immunity. 1999 Apr; 10(4):439-49. View in: PubMed

  82. CK-1, a putative chemokine of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Immunol Rev. 1998 Dec; 166:341-8. View in: PubMed

  83. A major histocompatibility complex class I allele shared by two species of chimpanzee. Immunogenetics. 1998; 47(3):212-7. View in: PubMed

  84. Episodic evolution and turnover of HLA-B in the indigenous human populations of the Americas. Tissue Antigens. 1997 Sep; 50(3):219-32. View in: PubMed

  85. Natural inactivation of a common HLA allele (A*2402) has occurred on at least three separate occasions. J Immunol. 1997 Jun 01; 158(11):5242-50. View in: PubMed

  86. Peptides bound endogenously by HLA-Cw*0304 expressed in LCL 721.221 cells include a peptide derived from HLA-E. Tissue Antigens. 1996 Oct; 48(4 Pt 1):325-8. View in: PubMed

  87. The presence of HLA-A*2403 and HLA-B*1512 on the same haplotype in a Thai family. Tissue Antigens. 1996 May; 47(5):426-7. View in: PubMed

  88. Expression of an unusual Bw4 epitope by a subtype of HLA-B8 [B*0802]. Tissue Antigens. 1995 Oct; 46(4):316-21. View in: PubMed

  89. The origins of HLA-A,B,C polymorphism. Immunol Rev. 1995 Feb; 143:141-80. View in: PubMed

  90. The HLA-B73 antigen has a most unusual structure that defines a second lineage of HLA-B alleles. Tissue Antigens. 1994 May; 43(5):302-13. View in: PubMed