Brian A. Cobb, PhD

Department of Pathology
School of Medicine
Director, Immunology Training Program

Dr. Brian Cobb graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Oklahoma in 1995. The next five years were spent at Washington University, St. Louis, where he received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry studying the macromolecular interactions of the lens protein alpha crystallin with the plasma membrane. His three years as a postdoctoral fellow was spent as a dual appointment in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (2001-04) working with Dennis Kasper on the innate and adaptive immune responses to commensal bacteria-derived capsular polysaccharides. He continued at Harvard for another year as an Instructor before coming to Case School of Medicine in 2005 where he is a Professor in the Department of Pathology, and Director of the Immunology Training Program.

Research Information

Research Projects

The Cobb lab is broadly focused on immune regulation and the role that carbohydrates (microbial and host) play in related mechanisms. As such, we work at the interface of glycobiology and immunology.

The lab can be roughly broken into two areas of research:

  1. Polysaccharide antigens and the T cell-dependent impact of these commensal flora-derived molecules on the susceptibility to develop immune-mediate diseases, such as asthma and multiple sclerosis.
  2. The regulation of host glycosylation and the impact these glycans have upon immune regulatory pathways, with a specific interest in antibody (IgG) regulation.

View the Cobb Laboratory


View All Publications

  • Johnson JL, Jones MB, Cobb BA. (2014) "Polysaccharide A from the capsule of Bacteroides fragilis induces clonal CD4+ T cell expansion", Journal of Biological Chemistry 290(8), pp. 5007-5014. [Pubmed]
  • Johnson, JL, Jones MB, Cobb BA. (2014) "Bacterial capsular polysaccharide prevents the onset of asthma through T cell activation", Glycobiology 25(4), pp. 368-375. [Pubmed]
  • Ryan, S.O., Abbott, D.W., Cobb BA. (2014) "Myeloid glycosylation defects lead to a spontaneous common variable immunodeficiency-like condition with associated hemolytic anemia and antilymphocyte autoimmunity", Journal of Immunology192(12), pp. 5561-5570. [Pubmed]
  • Cobb BA. (2014) "Is donor glycosylation the gatekeeper for xenotransplantation?" American Journal of Transplantation14(4), pp. 745-747. [Pubmed]
  • Taylor, P.R., Roy, S., Leal Jr., S.M., Sun, Y., Howell, S.J., Cobb BA, Li, X., Pearlman, E. (2014) "Activation of neutrophils by autocrine IL-17A-IL-17RC interactions during fungal infection is regulated by IL-6, IL-23, RORgt and Dectin-2", Nature Immunology 15(2), pp. 143-151. [Pubmed]
  • Ryan SO, Leal SM, Abbott DW, Pearlman E, Cobb BA (2014) "Mgat2 ablation in the myeloid lineage leads to defective glycoantigen T cell responses", Glycobiology 24(3), pp. 262-271. [Pubmed]
  • Jun, JC Kertesy S, Jones MB, Marinis JM, Cobb BA, Tigno-Aranjuez, J.T., Abbott, D.W. (2013) "Innate immune-directed NF-kB signaling requires site-specific NEMO ubiquitination", Cell Reports 4(2), pp. 352-361. [Pubmed]
  • Bloem K, Garcia-Vallejo JJ, Vuist IM, Cobb BA, van Vliet SJ, van Kooyk Y. (2013) "Interaction of the Capsular Polysaccharide A from Bacteroides fragilis with DC-SIGN on Human Dendritic Cells is Necessary for Its Processing and Presentation to T cells", Frontiers in Immunology 4(Article 103). [Pubmed]
  • Ryan SO, Johnson JL, Cobb BA. (2013) "Neutrophils Confer T cell Resistance to Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cell-Mediated Suppression to Promote Chronic Inflammation", Journal of Immunology 190(10), pp. 5037-5047. [Pubmed]
  • Johnson JL, Jones MB, Ryan SO, Cobb BA. (2013) "The Regulatory Power of Glycans and their Binding Partners in Immunity", Trends in Immunology 34(6), pp. 290-308. [Pubmed]
  • Xiao X, Yuan J, Haik S, Cali I, Zhan Y, Li B, Moudjou M, Laplanche J-L, Laude H, Langeveld J, Gambetti P, Kitamoto T, Kong Q, Cobb BA, Brandel JP, Petersen RB, Zou WQ. (2013) "Glycoform-Selective Prion Formation in Sporadic and Familial Forms of Prion Disease", PLOS One 8(3): e58786. [Pubmed]
  • Leal SM, Vareechon C, Cowden S, Cobb BA, Latge JP, Momany M, Pearlman E. (2012) "Fungal Antioxidant Pathways Promote Survival Against Neutophils During Infection", Journal of Clinical Investigation 122(7), pp. 2482-2498. [Pubmed]
  • Taylor, CE, Cobb BA, Rittenhouse-Olson K, Paulson J, Schreiber JR. (2012) "Carbohydrate Moieties as Vaccine Candidates: Targeting the Sweet Spot in the Immune Response", Vaccine 30(30), pp. 4409-4413. [Pubmed]
  • Marinis JM, Hutti JE, Homer CR, Cobb BA, Cantley LC, McDonald C, Abbott DW. (2012) "IkB Kinase alpha Phosphorylation of TRAF4 Down-Regulates Innate Immune Signaling", Molecular Cell Biology 32(13), pp. 2479-2489. [Pubmed]
  • Ryan, S.O. and Cobb, B.A. (2012) "Roles for Major Histocompatibility Complex Glycosylation in Immune Function", Seminars in Immunopathology special volume on Glycosylation and Immunity 34(3), pp. 425-441. [Pubmed]
  • Rabinovich GA, van Kooyk Y, Cobb BA. (2012) "Glycobiology of immune responses", Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1253(1), pp. 1-15. [Pubmed]
  • Ryan, S.O. and Cobb, B.A. (2012) "Host Glycans and Antigen Presentation", Microbes and Infection 14, pp. 894-903. [Pubmed]
  • Kreisman LSC and Cobb BA. (2012) "Infection, Inflammation, and Host Carbohydrates: A Glyco-Evasion Hypothesis", Glycobiology 22(8), pp. 1019-1030. [Pubmed]
  • Lewis, CJ and Cobb BA. (2011) "Adaptive Immune Defects Against Glycoantigens in Chronic Granulomatous Disease via Dysregulated Nitric Oxide Production", European Journal of Immunology 41(9), pp. 2562-2572. [Pubmed]
  • Cobb BA, Rabinovich GA, van Kooyk Y. (2011) "State of the Union: Glycobiology and Immunology in the Canadian Rockies", Glycobiology 21(5), pp. 545-546. [Pubmed]
  • Young NM, Kreisman LSC, Stupak J, Maclean LL, Cobb BA, Richards JC. (2011) "Structural characterization and MHCII-dependent immunological properties of the zwitterionic O-chain antigen of Morganella morganii", Glycobiology 21(10), pp. 1266-1276. [Pubmed]
  • Ryan, SO, Bonomo JA, Zhao F, Cobb BA. (2011) "MHCII Glycosylation Modulates Bacteroides fragilis Carbohydrate Antigen Presentation", Journal of Experimental Medicine 208(5), pp. 1041-1053. [Pubmed]
  • Kreisman LSC and Cobb BA. (2011) "Glycoantigens Induce Human Peripheral Tr1 Cell Differentiation with Gut-homing Specialization", Journal of Biological Chemistry 286(11), pp. 8810-8818. [Pubmed]
  • Ramachandra L, Qu Y, Wang Y, Lewis CJ, Cobb BA, Takatsu K, Boom WH, Dubyak GR, Harding CV. (2010) "Mycobacterium tuberculosis synergizes with ATP to induce release of microvesicles and exosomes containing MHC-II molecules capable of antigen presentation", Infection and Immunity 78(12), pp. 5116-5125. [Pubmed]
  • Lewis CJ. and Cobb BA. (2010) "Carbohydrate Oxidation Acidifies Endosomes, Regulating Antigen Processing and TLR9 Signaling", Journal of Immunology 184, pp. 3789-3800. [Pubmed]
  • Brokaw A, Cobb BA. (2009) "A Simple Test Tube-Based ELISA Experiment for the High School Classroom", Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 37(4), pp. 243-248. [Pubmed]
  • Cobb BA. (2009) "Immunology and the biomedical student pipeline", European Journal of Immunology 39(5), pp. 1183-1186. [Pubmed]
  • Velez CD, Lewis CJ, Kasper DL, Cobb BA. (2008) "Type 1 Streptococcus pneumoniae carbohydrate utilizes a nitric oxide and MHCII-dependent pathway for antigen presentation", Immunology 127(1), pp. 73-82. [Pubmed]
  • Clark NM, Marinis JM, Cobb BA, Abbott DW. (2008) "MEKK4 sequesters RIP2 to dictate NOD2 signal specificity",Current Biology 18(18), pp. 1402-1408. [Pubmed]
  • Cobb BA, Kasper DL. (2008) "Characteristics of carbohydrate antigen binding to the presentation protein HLA-DR",Glycobiology 18(9), pp. 707-718. [Pubmed]
  • Kreisman LSC, Friedman JH, Neaga A, Cobb BA. (2007) “Structure-Function Relationships with a T cell Activating Polysaccharide Antigen using Circular Dichroism”, Glycobiology 17(1), pp. 46-55. [Pubmed]
  • Wang Q, McLoughlin RM, Cobb BA, Charrel-Dennis M, Zaleski KJ, Golenbock D, Tzianabos AO, Kasper DL. (2006) "A bacterial carbohydrate links innate and adaptive responses through Toll-like receptor 2", Journal of Experimental Medicine 203(13), pp. 2853-2863. [Pubmed]
  • Cobb BA, Kasper DL. (2005) "Zwitterionic Capsular Polysaccharides: The New MHCII-Dependent Antigens", Cellular Microbiology 7(10), pp. 1398-1403. [Pubmed]
  • Cobb BA, Kasper DL. (2005) "Coming of Age: Carbohydrates and Immunity", European Journal of Immunology 35(2), pp. 352-356.  [Pubmed]
  • Cobb BA, Wang Q, Tzianabos AO, Kasper DL. (2004) "Polysaccharide Processing and Presentation by the MHCII Pathway", Cell 117(5), pp. 677-87.  [Pubmed]
  • Cobb BA, Petrash JM. (2002) "Factors Influencing alpha-Crystallin Association with  Phospholipid Vesicles", Molecular Vision 8, pp. 85-93.  [Pubmed]
  • Cobb BA, Petrash JM. (2001) "Alpha-Crystallin Chaperone-Like Activity and Membrane Binding in Age-Related Cataracts", Biochemistry 41, pp. 483-90.  [Pubmed]
  • Cobb BA, Petrash JM. (2000) "Structural and Functional Changes in the alphaA-crystallin R116C Mutant in Hereditary Cataracts", Biochemistry 39, pp. 15791-8.  [Pubmed]
  • Cobb BA, Petrash JM. (2000) "Characterization of alpha-Crystallin-Plasma Membrane Binding", Journal of Biological Chemistry 275(9), pp. 6664-72.  [Pubmed]
  • Stock MF, Guerrero J, Cobb B, Eggers CT, Huang TG, Li X, Hackney DD. (1999) "Formation of the Compact Confomer of Kinesin Requires a COOH-terminal Heavy Chain Domain and Inhibits Microtubule-Stimulated ATPase Activity",Journal of Biological Chemistry 274(21), pp. 14617-23.  [Pubmed]

Third-Party News and Views

  • (2011) "The curious case of nitric oxide and CGD", In this issue. European Journal of Immunology 41(9), pp. 2465-2466. [Link]
  • Watts C. (2004) "Class II MHC: Sweetening the Peptide-Only Diet?", Cell 117(5), pp. 558-9.  [Pubmed]
  • Honey K. (2004) "Presenting a Newly Charged Antigen", Nature Reviews Immunology 4, pg. 489. [Link]
  • Hurtley SM. (2004) "Immunology: Sweet Presentation", Science 304, pg. 1719. [Link]
  • Dempsey LA. (2004) "Processed Sugar", Nature Immunology 5(7), pg. 693. [Link]


Doctor of Philosophy
Washington University, St. Louis
Area of Study
Bachelor of Science
University of Oklahoma
Area of Study

Residencies, Internships and Fellowships

Harvard Medical School
Area of Study