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Honorable Mention, 2008

Barbarians at the Gate

Sheila Barry, Microbiology and Immunology

My research examines the roles of different cells mediating sexual transmission of HIV in male genital tissue. Due to their proximity to the tissue surface, I am particularly interested in Langerhans cells (LCs), an antigen-presenting cell concentrated in mucosal tissues. I have shown previously that in vitro derived LCs are capable of enhancing HIV infection of target cells following activation. Recent publications have suggested male circumcision may provide some protection against acquiring HIV infection. Since LCs exist in high concentrations within male foreskin, I am therefore investigating their involvement in mediating HIV transmission in this tissue.

The image displays Langerhans cells within male foreskin. Tissue samples were sectioned to 10┬Ám thickness, then stained with antibodies against LC-specific cell surface markers. Images were acquired on a microscope equipped with deconvolution software. LCs are seen in green, with tissue structure visible in orange. Cell nuclei are stained blue. Using this image, and several other similar images, I have been to examine the localization of LCs in tissue.