Dr. Pillai’s primary research interest is to dissect out the role of stromal cells and monocytes/ macrophages in regulating diverse tissue microenvironments (MEs) particularly, the hematopoietic and tumor MEs. This is pursued in both human in-vitro as well as murine in-vivo models. Cloned stromal cell lines and peripheral blood monocytes (CD14 isolated) are used in human in-vitro work. A novel transgenic tetracycline inducible mouse utilizing a macrophage promoter (CD68 promoter) and a new generation reverse tetracycline activator (rtTA-M2) was generated and characterized, this will allow for the expression of various transgenes of interest at- will in a reversible fashion. This model will be extended to the study of macrophages in the hematopoietic ME as well as tumor associated macrophages (TAMs) in appropriate mouse models of cancer (lung, breast). By defining the nature of macrophage factors involved in diverse tissue MEs, it is hoped that the more effective therapeutic strategies can be devised in clinical scenarios where macrophage dysfunction is thought to contribute to the pathogenesis itself or its progression.
Pillai MM and Beverly Torok-Storb. “Inducible transgenes under the control of the hCD68 promoter identifies mouse macrophages distinct from the F4/80 and CSF-1R expressing populations”. Manuscript submitted
Pillai MM, Kosak S, Venkataraman GK and Torok-Storb B “Integration site analysis in transgenic mice by TAIL (Thermal Asymmetric Amplification) PCR: Use for segregating multiple founder lines and determining zygosity.” Transgenic Research; 2008 Aug;17(4):749-54.
Iwata M, Pillai M, Ramakrishnan A, Hackman RC, Deeg HJ, Opdenakker GM, Torok-Storb BS. “Reduced expression of inducible gelatinase B/matrix metalloproteinase-9 in monocytes from patients with myelodysplastic syndrome: Correlation of inducible levels with the percentage of cytogenetically-marked cells and with marrow cellularity.” Blood. 2007 Jan 1;109(1):85-92
Pillai MM, Iwata M, Awaya N, Lynn Graf and Torok-Storb B. “Monocyte derived CXCL7 peptides in the marrow-microenvironment.” Blood, 1 May 2006, Vol. 107, No. 9, pp. 3520-3526.
Pillai M, Torok-Storb B, Iwata M.“Expression and Function of IL-7 Receptors in Marrow Stromal Cells. “ Leukemia & Lymphoma. 2004 Dec; 45(12): 2403-8