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Faculty Image Scott Wetzel
Phone: 406-243-2168
Website: Click Here
Curriculum Vita: View/Download CV


Field Of Study:

Cellular Immunology

Research Interests:

Work in my lab focuses on antigen recognition and activation of CD4+ T lymphocytes.

CD4+ T lymphocytes recognize antigenic peptide fragments presented on the surface of antigen presenting cells (APC) by major histocompatiblility complex (MHC) class II proteins. Triggering of the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) by binding to the MHC:peptide ligand induces dramatic morphological changes as the T cell flattens against the APC and increases contact area forming stable T-APC conjugates. This initial antigen recognition is followed by large-scale spatial and temporal molecular rearrangements of plasma membrane proteins and intracellular signaling molecules. These rearrangements lead to the formation of an ordered structure at the T-APC interface termed the immunological synapse. The synapse is involved in T cell signaling as well as the site for delivery of T cell effector functions. We have previously shown that molecules from the APC are transferred to the T cell across the immune synapse in a process called trogocytosis.

Work in our lab focuses on two important areas related to T lymphocyte biology:

•  The impact of the herbicide Atrazine on the activation of CD4+ T cells and the mechanism underlying a significant increase in Foxp3+ regulatory T cells;

•  The biological consequences on individual T cells after the capture of APC membrane fragments from T-APC immunological synapse, a process termed “trogocytosis”


We are examining the biological significance of intercellular transfer of molecules from APC to T cells (termed trogocytosis). We have previously shown that upon dissociation from APC, T cells capture MHC:peptide molecules from the immunological synapse and imaging data suggests that these molecules continue to signal to the T cell. Our 2012 paper suggests that these trogocytosed molecules sustain intracellular signaling, which leads to selective survival of the trogocytosis positive cells, in vitro.  Our working hypothesis is that this controls an ongoing immune response by continuous cell autonomous signaling and by intercellular interactions in T cell – T cell antigen presentation. This T-T presentation may potentiate an immune response and/or may play an important role in peripheral tolerance, as antigen presentation by T cells results in anergy induction in vivo in some experimental systems.

Immunotoxicology of Atrazine

We are examining the impact on Atrazine on thethe activation and differentiation of CD4+ T cells.  Atrazine is a very widely applied herbicide that the USGS  estimates contaminates 70% of the ground water in the US. It has been linked to birth defects,  cancer, immune developmental defects and  modulation of immune cell effector functions. We have shown that Atrazine inhibits lymphocyte proliferation and lymphocyte effector function.  In addition, we have shown that the frequency of Foxp3 positive regulatory T cells doubles in atrazine-treated cultures. We have recently found that male and female T cells repsonde differently to atrazine exposure.  We are now examining the impact of Atrazine-induced elevated es


BIOB 410 - Immunology

BIOB 411 - Immunology Lab

BIOB 502 - Advanced Immunology

BIOB 495/595 - Principles of Light Microscopy


B.A. University of La Verne, La Verne, CA., 1987

M.S. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, 1992

Ph.D. Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, 2001


American Association of Immunologists

University of Montana Center for Environmental Health Sciences

Scientific Director, University of Montana Molecular Histology and Fluorescence Imaging Core Facility

UM Interdepartmental Immunology Graduate Degree Track

UM DBS Integrated Microbiology and Biochemistry Graduate Program

Selected Publications:

Other Publications:

Osborne, D.G. and Wetzel, S.A. (2012) Trogocytosis leads to sustained signaling in CD4+ T cells. The Journal of Immunology, 189(10):4728-39.  PMID: 23066151

Doherty, M., Osborne, D.G., Browning, D.B., Parker, D.C. Wetzel, S.A. (2010) Anergic CD4+ T cells form mature immunological synapses with enhanced accumulation of c-Cbl and Cbl-b. The Journal of Immunology, 184:3598-3608.  PMCID: PMC2843782

Thauland, T.J.; Y. Koguchi, R.Varma, S.A. Wetzel, M.L. Dustin, and D.C. Parker. (2008).  Th1 and Th2 cells fom morphologically distinct immunological synapses .  The Journal of Immunology,  181:393-9

Blake, D.J.; Wetzel, S.A.; Jean C Pfau, J.C. (2008) Autoantibodies from mice exposed to Libby amphibole asbestos bind SSA/Ro52-enriched apoptotic blebs of murine macrophages. Toxicology, 246:172-9

Scott A. Wetzel and D.C. Parker. (2006) MHC transfer from APC to T cells following antigen recognition. Critical Reviews in Immunology. 26:1-21

Tara J. Dillon, K.D.Carey, S.A. Wetzel, D.C. Parker, P.J.S. Stork. (2005). Regulation of the Small GTPase Rap1 and Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinases by the Costimulatory Molecule CTLA-4. Molecular Cell Biology, 25(10):4117-4128

Scott A. Wetzel, T. W. McKeithan, D.C. Parker. (2005). Peptide-specific intercellular transfer of MHC class II to CD4+ T cells directly from the immunological synapse upon cellular dissociation. The Journal of Immunology. 174(1): 80-9

Tara J. Dillon, Vladimir Karpitski, Scott A. Wetzel, David C. Parker, Andrey S. Shaw, and Philip J. S. Stork (2003). Ectopic B-Raf expression enhances extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) Signaling in T cells and prevents antigen presenting cell-induced anergy. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 278:35940.

Wetzel, S.A. ; McKeithan, T.W.; Parker D.C. (2002) Live Cell Dynamics and the Role of Costimulation in Immunological Synapse Formation. The Journal of Immunology. 169(11):6092

Sperry P.J.; Cua D.J.; Wetzel S.A.; Adler-Moore, J.A. (1998) Antimicrobial activity of AmBisome and non-liposomal Amphotericin B following uptake of Candida glabrata by murine epidermal Langerhans cells. Medical Mycology 36(3):135 - 141

Primus, F.J.; Finch, M.D.; Wetzel, S.A.; Masci, A.M.; Schlom, J.; Kashmiri, S.V.S. (1994) Monoclonal Antibody Gene Transfer: Implications for Tumor - Specific Cell - Mediated Cytotoxicity. Annals of the New York Academy of Science. 716:154 - 166