Gene Expression Signatures Characterized by Longitudinal Stability and Inter-Individual Variability Delineate Baseline Phenotypic Groups with Distinct Responses to Immune Stimulation
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RNA sequencing (RNAseq) of peripheral blood lymphocytes was used to develop a means to assess immune function in a way that can be used in discovery science and applied to patients individually in clinical settings. The premise is that profiles of RNA present in immune cells is reflective of the combined influence of genetic and environmental variation on immune potential of individuals and that this potential can be tapped to understand human immunity in a variety of biological contexts. CD4+ cells were isolated from fresh whole blood via positive magnetic bead selection and cell lysates were prepared using Qiazol (QIAGEN) and stored at -80ºC for 3 to 8 months. RNA was extracted in batches for cDNA library preparation and RNA-Seq. For this study, we developed standard operating procedures for handling human blood samples and determined: a) the best way to enrich for CD4+ T cells from whole blood and yield high quality RNA, b) the sensitivity of this RNA profiling strategy, and c) the reproducibility of generated immune profiles from healthy subjects. We then developed bioinformatics processes to establish immune response signatures and immune response phenotypes within cohorts of individuals.
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