Deepta Bhattacharya
Associate Professor, BIO5 Institute
Associate Professor, Genetics - GIDP
Associate Professor, Immunobiology
Associate Professor, Surgery
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 626-8088
Research Interest
Research in the Bhattacharya lab focuses on molecular approaches to direct B cell differentiation to establish immunity to infectious disease, and stem cell differentiation for regenerative medicine. Current projects in the lab include: 1) Understanding the cellular basis of antibody-mediated immunity to variable viruses. After infection or vaccination, B cells that recognize the pathogen proliferate and undergo a massive level of expansion. Upon clearance of the infection a small fraction of the "best" B cells are retained to become memory B cells or long-lived plasma cells. Our recent work has established that memory B cells are excellent at recognizing not only the original pathogen, but also mutant escape variants of the pathogen. In contrast, long-lived plasma cells are highly specific only for the original pathogen. We are studying the transcription factors that regulate the memory B cell vs. long-lived plasma cell fate, and are studying mechanisms to alter this fate to provide effective immunity against mutable viruses such as influenza and Dengue. 2) Identifying molecular regulators of the duration of immunity. Most clinically used vaccines rely on the production of antibodies to confer immunity. The duration of immunity can vary greatly between different vaccines, yet the molecular basis of this remains unknown. Current efforts are focused on the identification of genes that regulate plasma cell lifespan and on the features of the vaccine that confer durable antibody immunity. 3) Engineering human pluripotent stem cells to generate antibody-mediated immunity. A small fraction of patients infected with HIV or dengue virus, or vaccinated against influenza develop remarkable antibodies that neutralize nearly all clinical isolates of these viruses. Yet it is unclear how to induce these types of antibodies in the broader population through standard vaccination. Using novel targeted nuclease technologies, we are engineering human embryonic stem cells to express these antibodies and differentiating them into transplantable long-lived plasma cells. The long-term goal of this project is to provide permanent immunity to recipients of these engineered plasma cells.


Forsberg, E. C., Bhattacharya, D., & Weissman, I. L. (2006). Hematopoietic stem cells: expression profiling and beyond. Stem cell reviews, 2(1), 23-30.

This review focuses on the genomics of mouse hematopoiesis, but also draws parallels to other systems and discusses issues common to the analysis of rare populations such as stem cells. As examples from the mouse blood forming system are used to illustrate several points, the authors first give a brief introduction to mouse hematopoiesis as a model system. We review the multiple microarray analyses that have been performed on various mouse hematopoietic subpopulations and comment on both technical and biological aspects of such experiments. The concept of stemness is discussed, and the importance of biological function of gene products, protein-protein interactions and molecular pathways highlighted. Finally, the authors discuss some major unresolved issues in hematopoiesis and discuss the potential uses of future microarray analysis as well as other genomic and functional approaches that might prove useful to further our understanding of hematopoiesis and other stem cell systems.

McKitrick, T. R., Muscat, C. C., Pierce, J. D., Bhattacharya, D., & De Tomaso, A. W. (2011). Allorecognition in a basal chordate consists of independent activating and inhibitory pathways. Immunity, 34(4), 616-26.

Histocompatibility in the basal chordate Botryllus schlosseri is controlled by the polymorphisms of a single gene: the fuhc. A polymorphic candidate receptor (fester) appeared to play roles in both initiating the reaction and discriminating between fuhc alleles. Here we report the characterization of a related protein, uncle fester. uncle fester is not polymorphic, and although coexpressed with fester, has different functional properties. Loss-of-function studies demonstrate that uncle fester was required for incompatible reactions but has no role in interactions between compatible individuals. Furthermore, stimulation with monoclonal antibodies could initiate a rejection phenotype on a single colony, and in both assays the severity of the rejection could be manipulated. These findings suggest that allorecognition in Botryllus consists of independent pathways that control compatible and incompatible outcomes that are integrated within the interacting cells, and may provide insight into basal processes conserved in allorecognition responses throughout the metazoa.

Jash, A., Wang, Y., Weisel, F. J., Scharer, C. D., Boss, J. M., Shlomchik, M. J., & Bhattacharya, D. (2016). ZBTB32 Restricts the Duration of Memory B Cell Recall Responses. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950), 197(4), 1159-68.

Memory B cell responses are more rapid and of greater magnitude than are primary Ab responses. The mechanisms by which these secondary responses are eventually attenuated remain unknown. We demonstrate that the transcription factor ZBTB32 limits the rapidity and duration of Ab recall responses. ZBTB32 is highly expressed by mouse and human memory B cells but not by their naive counterparts. Zbtb32(-/-) mice mount normal primary Ab responses to T-dependent Ags. However, Zbtb32(-/-) memory B cell-mediated recall responses occur more rapidly and persist longer than do control responses. Microarray analyses demonstrate that Zbtb32(-/-) secondary bone marrow plasma cells display elevated expression of genes that promote cell cycle progression and mitochondrial function relative to wild-type controls. BrdU labeling and adoptive transfer experiments confirm more rapid production and a cell-intrinsic survival advantage of Zbtb32(-/-) secondary plasma cells relative to wild-type counterparts. ZBTB32 is therefore a novel negative regulator of Ab recall responses.

Seita, J., Sahoo, D., Rossi, D. J., Bhattacharya, D., Serwold, T., Inlay, M. A., Ehrlich, L. I., Fathman, J. W., Dill, D. L., & Weissman, I. L. (2012). Gene Expression Commons: an open platform for absolute gene expression profiling. PloS one, 7(7), e40321.

Gene expression profiling using microarrays has been limited to comparisons of gene expression between small numbers of samples within individual experiments. However, the unknown and variable sensitivities of each probeset have rendered the absolute expression of any given gene nearly impossible to estimate. We have overcome this limitation by using a very large number (>10,000) of varied microarray data as a common reference, so that statistical attributes of each probeset, such as the dynamic range and threshold between low and high expression, can be reliably discovered through meta-analysis. This strategy is implemented in a web-based platform named "Gene Expression Commons" ( which contains data of 39 distinct highly purified mouse hematopoietic stem/progenitor/differentiated cell populations covering almost the entire hematopoietic system. Since the Gene Expression Commons is designed as an open platform, investigators can explore the expression level of any gene, search by expression patterns of interest, submit their own microarray data, and design their own working models representing biological relationship among samples.

Sandoval, G. J., Graham, D. B., Gmyrek, G. B., Akilesh, H. M., Fujikawa, K., Sammut, B., Bhattacharya, D., Srivatsan, S., Kim, A., Shaw, A. S., Yang-Iott, K., Bassing, C. H., Duncavage, E., Xavier, R. J., & Swat, W. (2013). Novel mechanism of tumor suppression by polarity gene discs large 1 (DLG1) revealed in a murine model of pediatric B-ALL. Cancer immunology research, 1(6), 426-37.

Drosophila melanogaster discs large (dlg) is an essential tumor suppressor gene (TSG) controlling epithelial cell growth and polarity of the fly imaginal discs in pupal development. A mammalian ortholog, Dlg1, is involved in embryonic urogenital morphogenesis, postsynaptic densities in neurons, and immune synapses in lymphocytes. However, a potential role for Dlg1 as a mammalian TSG is unknown. Here, we present evidence that loss of Dlg1 confers strong predisposition to the development of malignancies in a murine model of pediatric B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). Using mice with conditionally deleted Dlg1 alleles, we identify a novel "pre-leukemic" stage of developmentally arrested early B-lineage cells marked by preeminent c-Myc expression. Mechanistically, we show that in B-lineage progenitors Dlg1 interacts with and stabilizes the PTEN protein, regulating its half-life and steady-state abundance. The loss of Dlg1 does not affect the level of PTEN mRNAs but results in a dramatic decrease in PTEN protein, leading to excessive phosphoinositide 3-kinase signaling and proliferation. Our data suggest a novel model of tumor suppression by a PDZ domain-containing polarity gene in hematopoietic cancers.