"Being involved in research for over a year, I decided to apply to the Scholars program in order to gain more experiences and opportunities to share my work and findings with peers. This academic year I hope to learn more about CD80 and CD86 (the molecules of interest in my project), and the cell types in which they are expressed to further understand its role in Sjogren's Syndrome."
I am interested in dentistry and oral diseases.
Academic and Other Awards
- American Student Dental Association
- Cuban American Student Association
I volunteer in dental clinics at UF and Tacachale. I also visit local elementary schools to teach young kids about the importance of oral health.
Hobbies and Interests
- Biking, kayaking, cooking, and baking.
Differential CD80 Expression in Sjögren’s Syndrome-Like Autoimmune Disease Mouse Model
The objectives of my project are to investigate the impact of abnormal miR-146a expression on antigen presentation by examining the expression levels of co-stimulatory molecule B7-1 (CD80), a protein found on the surface of activated B cells and monocytes, and to test its function on T-cell proliferation. Previous studies have shown elevated levels of microRNAs, particularly miR-146a, in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of primary Sjögren’s syndrome (SjS) patients when compared to healthy controls, as well as in salivary glands and PBMCs of SjS-prone mice. SjS is an autoimmune disease in which lymphocytic infiltration of the salivary and tear exocrine glands destroy their secretion abilities. While investigating the function of upregulated miR-146a in SjS, it was discovered that CD80 is likely to be negatively regulated by miR-146a. CD80 is critical in antigen presentation because it acts in conjunction with CD86 to prime ligands on T cells causing activation. CD80 expression will be examined in the submandibular salivary glands (SMX) of the SjS-prone mouse model and control mice to verify whether miR-146a negatively regulates CD80 expression. This will be quantified using western blot analysis of SMX samples from 8, 12, and 20 week old SjS-prone and control mice. These ages represent prior to disease onset, disease onset, and full-blown disease, respectively. The localization of CD80 in vivo will be evaluated by immunofluorescent co-staining with acinar and ductal cell markers. Furthermore, in order to examine the effect of miR-146a on antigen presentation, THP1 cells from humans will be cultured in vitro with T cells isolated from PBMCs, and the resulting T cell proliferation will be monitored by CFSE staining using flow cytometry. These studies will add to the knowledge of specific mechanisms that may contribute to the pathogenesis of SjS.