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Pathology & Immunology

Houston, Texas

Pathology and Immunology
Pathology & Immunology
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M. Zouhair Atassi, Ph.D. - Faculty

M. Zouhair Atassi photo
Robert A. Welch Chair of Chemistry and Professor
, Department of Biochemistry and Department of Pathology & Immunology

Ph.D., Chemistry, 1960, University of Birmingham, England
Postdoctoral, Chemistry, 1960-1962, University of Birmingham, England


Research Interests: Protein structure and function; molecular and cellular immunology

Design and synthesis of protein binding sites; antibody and T-cell recognition of proteins at the submolecular level and synthesis of the recognition sites (myoglobin, hemoglobin, lysozyme, serum albumin, human chorionic gonadotropin, urokinase, ragweed allergen, influenza virus hemagglutinin, human DR2 molecule, a-bungarotoxin, acetylcholine receptor); design and synthesis of peptide vaccines against viral infection (influenza virus and foot-and-mouth disease virus are used as models); development of peptide vaccines against neurotoxins (specifically a-bungarotoxin and botulinum neurotoxin); mechanisms of antigen presentation to the T cell and of B-cell activation by antigen-specific T cells; dissection and synthesis of the toxic and immune recognition sites of a-neurotoxins; dissection and synthesis of the functional sites of acetylcholine receptor; molecular and cellular autoimmune responses in myasthenia gravis and the manipulation of the autoimmune disease by synthetic peptides; autoimmune recognition of human insulin receptor; development of peptide-based diagnostic assays for myasthenia gravis, Grave's disease and type II diabetes; development of sensitive tests for early diagnosis of brain tumors and for early general diagnosis of cancer.

A computer-generated lysozyme model showing the relative positions of the residues constituting the three discontinuous antigenic sites of the protein molecule: dotted lines, site 1; dashed lines, site 2; bold-faced lines, site 3. It should be noted that from this perspective, most of site 2 is on the back side of the molecule and only Trp-62 should be visible. Our laboratory first determined the precise locations of these sites chemically and then we mimicked the sites synthetically by a novel approach we termed "surface-simulation" synthesis.

Selected Publications

  • Hamajima, S. and Atassi, M.Z. (1998) B-Cell activation in vitro by helper T cells specific to a protein region that is recognized by both T cells and by antibodies. Immunol. Invest. 27:121-134.
  • Abaza, M.I., Shaban, F.A., Narayan, R.K., and Atassi, M.Z. (1998) Human glioma associated intermediate filament proteins: Over-expression, co-localization and cross-reactivity. Anticancer Res. 18:1333-1340.
  • Oshima, M., Middlebrook, J.L., and Atassi, M.Z. (1998) Antibodies and T cells against synthetid peptides of the C-terminal domain (HC) of botulinum neurotoxin type A and their cross-reaction with HC. Immunol. Lett. 60:7-12.
  • Oshima, M., Yokoi, T., and Atassi, M.Z. (1998) T-cell responses in EAMG-susceptible and non-susceptible mouse strains after immunization with overlapping peptides encompassing the extracellular part of Torpedo californica acetylcholine receptor a chain. Implication to role in myasthenia gravis of autoimmune T-cell responses against receptor degradation products. Autoimmunity 27:79-90.
  • Dolimbek, B.Z., Atassi, M.Z., and Salikhov, S.I. (1998) Presynaptic and postsynaptic neurotoxins: Structure of the immune recognition sights. Chem. Nat. Compounds 1:22-40.

  • Oshima M, Atassi MZ. T cells of mice treated with mPEG-myasthenogenic peptide conjugate are involved in protection against EAMG by stimulating lower pathogenic antibody responses. Autoimmunity 2000; 32:45-55.

  • Nakayashiki N, Oshima M, Deitiker PR, Ashizawa T, Atassi MZ. Suppression of experimental myasthenia gravis by monoclonal antibodies against MHC peptide region involved in presentation of a pathogenic T-cell epitope. J Neuroimmunol. 2000; 105:131-44.

  • Deitiker P, Ashizawa T, Atassi MZ. Antigen mimicry in autoimmune disease. Can immune responses to microbial antigens that mimic acetylcholine receptor act as initial triggers of Myasthenia gravis? Hum Immunol. 2000; 6:255-65.

  • Atassi MZ, Oshima M, Deitiker P. On the initial trigger of myasthenia gravis and suppression of the disease by antibodies against the MHC peptide region involved in the presentation of a pathogenic T-cell epitope. Crit Rev Immunol. 2001; 21:1-27.

  • Minako Oshima, Philip Deitiker, Tetsuo Ashizawa, M. Zouhair Atassi Vaccination with a MHC Class II Peptide Attenuates Cellular and Humoral Responses against tAChR and Suppresses Clinical EAMG Autoimmunity 2002; 35:183-190.

To see a complete listing of Dr. Atassi's publications, visit PubMed.

Contact Information

M. Zouhair Atassi, Ph.D.
Department of Biochemistry
Baylor College of Medicine
One Baylor Plaza, BCM125
Houston, TX 77030, U.S.A.

Phone: 713-798-6050
Fax: 713-798-6437

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