Theses and Dissertations


Juyeun Lee

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Seo, Keun Seok

Committee Member

Kaplan, Barbara

Committee Member

Pinchuk, Lesya

Committee Member

Pruett, Stephen

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Veterinary Medical Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Veterinary Medicine


Veterinary Medical Science Program


Superantigens are exotoxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus and induce extensive T cell proliferation and proinflammatory cytokines, leading to toxic shock syndrome at high concentrations. However, the role of superantigens produced at relatively low concentrations during asymptomatic colonization or chronic infection has not been well established. In this dissertation, we demonstrated that stimulation of human PBMCs with staphylococcal enterotoxin C1 (SEC1) at the dose inducing a half maximal T cell proliferation (suboptimal stimulation) induced immunosuppressive CD4+CD25+FOXP3+ and CD8+CD25+FOXP3+ T cells. The suppression of these cells was mainly mediated by the galectin-1. We found that suboptimal stimulation with SEC1 induced differential activation of PI3K-mTOR-Akt pathway, leading to expression of FOXP3 isoforms preferably localized to the nucleus and induction of PTEN that contributes to maintain stability and suppressive activity of regulatory T cells. Taken together, these results demonstrate the important role of superantigen produced at low concentration during asymptomatic colonization that induce immunosuppressive CD4+ and CD8+ regulatory T cells to promote survival, propagation, and colonization for S. aureus in the host.