University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Anthony L. DeFranco, PhD

Anthony L. DeFranco, PhD

Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, UCSF

Cancer Center Program Memberships

Affiliate Member

Research Summary

My laboratory studies receptor signaling in immune cells with a focus on the B cell antigen receptor (BCR) and Toll-like receptors (TLRs). In a longstanding collaboration with Clifford Lowell (UCSF), we have also studied the role of the Src-family kinase Lyn in inhibitory receptor signaling in B cells and the autoimmune disease that develops in Lyn-deficient mice. To study the in vivo function of TLRs in mice, we made a conditional (Cre/loxP) allele of the TLR signaling component MyD88 and have used this tool to characterize the role of MyD88 in dendritic cells and B cells for innate and adaptive immune responses. In recent years, we have discovered that BCR and TLR signaling reactions synergize to promote the germinal center response.


Harvard College, Cambridge MA, A.B., 1975, Biochemical & Molecular Biology
University of California, Berkeley, CA, Ph.D., 1979, Biochemistry
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda MD, Postdoctoral, 1979-83, Immunology

Professional Experience

  • 1972-1975
    Undergraduate research, laboratory of Dr. Jack Strominger. HLA antigens.
  • 1976-1979
    Graduate research, laboratory of Dr. Daniel E. Koshland, Jr. Bacterial chemotaxis.
  • 1979-1983
    Postdoctoral research, laboratory of Dr. William E. Paul. B cell activation.
  • 1983-1988
    Assistant Professor, UCSF, Department of Microbiology & Immunology,
  • 1988-1994
    Associate Professor, UCSF, Department of Microbiology & Immunology
  • 1989-1990
    Sabbatical with David Baltimore, Whitehead Insititute, MIT, Cambridge, MA
  • 1994-present
    Professor, UCSF, Department of Microbiology & Immunology
  • 1997-1998
    Sabbatical with Suzanne Cory, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne, Australia
  • 1998-2004
    Scientific Advisory Board, Abgenix, Inc. Fremont, CA
  • 1999-2009
    Chairman, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, UCSF
  • 2012
    Scientific Advisory Board, CB Celltech, Slough, UK

Honors & Awards

  • 1974
    Dreyfuss Foundation Fellow
  • 1975
    Phi Beta Kappa, Harvard University
  • 1975-78
    NSF Predoctoral Fellow
  • 1979-82
    Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow; 2nd Rose Lieberman Lecturer, NIH 10/93
  • 1994
    NIAID Merit Award
  • 1997-98
    NIH Fogarty Senior International Award

Selected Publications

  1. Wigton EJ, DeFranco AL, Ansel KM. Antigen Complexed with a TLR9 Agonist Bolsters c-Myc and mTORC1 Activity in Germinal Center B Lymphocytes. Immunohorizons. 2019 08 19; 3(8):389-401.
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  2. Faggioni M, Baber U, Chandrasekhar J, Sartori S, Claessen BE, Rao SV, Vogel B, Effron MB, Poddar K, Farhan S, Kini A, Weintraub W, Toma C, Sorrentino S, Weiss S, Snyder C, Muhlestein JB, Kapadia S, Keller S, Strauss C, Aquino M, Baker B, Defranco A, Pocock S, Henry T, Mehran R. Use of prasugrel vs clopidogrel and outcomes in patients with and without diabetes mellitus presenting with acute coronary syndrome undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention. Int J Cardiol. 2019 Jan 15; 275:31-35.
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  3. DeFranco AL. Multilayer Control of B Cell Activation by the B Cell Antigen Receptor: Following Themes Initiated With Bill Paul. Front Immunol. 2018; 9:739.
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  4. Tian M, Hua Z, Hong S, Zhang Z, Liu C, Lin L, Chen J, Zhang W, Zhou X, Zhang F, DeFranco AL, Hou B. B Cell-Intrinsic MyD88 Signaling Promotes Initial Cell Proliferation and Differentiation To Enhance the Germinal Center Response to a Virus-like Particle. J Immunol. 2018 02 01; 200(3):937-948.
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  5. Costa S, Marini O, Bevilacqua D, DeFranco AL, Hou B, Lonardi S, Vermi W, Rodegher P, Panato A, Tagliaro F, Lowell CA, Cassatella MA, Girolomoni G, Scapini P. Role of MyD88 signaling in the imiquimod-induced mouse model of psoriasis: focus on innate myeloid cells. J Leukoc Biol. 2017 09; 102(3):791-803.
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  6. DeFranco AL. Innate B cells cleave to the marginal zone. Nat Immunol. 2017 02 15; 18(3):248-250.
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  7. Lee LM, Ji M, Sinha M, Dong MB, Ren X, Wang Y, Lowell CA, Ghosh S, Locksley RM, DeFranco AL. Determinants of Divergent Adaptive Immune Responses after Airway Sensitization with Ligands of Toll-Like Receptor 5 or Toll-Like Receptor 9. PLoS One. 2016; 11(12):e0167693.
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  8. Proekt I, Miller CN, Jeanne M, Fasano KJ, Moon JJ, Lowell CA, Gould DB, Anderson MS, DeFranco AL. LYN- and AIRE-mediated tolerance checkpoint defects synergize to trigger organ-specific autoimmunity. J Clin Invest. 2016 10 03; 126(10):3758-3771.
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  9. DeFranco AL. Germinal centers and autoimmune disease in humans and mice. Immunol Cell Biol. 2016 11; 94(10):918-924.
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  10. Wang H, Li M, Hung CY, Sinha M, Lee LM, Wiesner DL, LeBert V, Lerksuthirat T, Galles K, Suresh M, DeFranco AL, Lowell CA, Klein BS, Wüthrich M. MyD88 Shapes Vaccine Immunity by Extrinsically Regulating Survival of CD4+ T Cells during the Contraction Phase. PLoS Pathog. 2016 08; 12(8):e1005787.
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  11. DeFranco AL. The germinal center antibody response in health and disease. F1000Res. 2016; 5.
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  12. Anthony L. DeFranco. Signaling Pathways Downstream of TLRs and IL-1 Family Receptors. Encyclopedia of Immunobiology. 2016 Jan 1; 106-114.
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  13. Anthony L DeFranco. B Lymphocytes: Receptors. eLS. 2015 Nov 16; 1-15.
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  14. Beck-Engeser GB, Winkelmann R, Wheeler ML, Shansab M, Yu P, Wünsche S, Walchhütter A, Metzner M, Vettermann C, Eilat D, DeFranco A, Jäck HM, Wabl M. APOBEC3 enzymes restrict marginal zone B cells. Eur J Immunol. 2015 Mar; 45(3):695-704.
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  15. Rookhuizen DC, DeFranco AL. Toll-like receptor 9 signaling acts on multiple elements of the germinal center to enhance antibody responses. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Aug 05; 111(31):E3224-33.
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  16. Minjia Yu, Hao Zhou, Junjie Zhao, Nengming Xiao, Sanjoy Roychowdhury, David Schmitt, Bingqing Hu, Richard M. Ransohoff, Clifford V. Harding, Amy G. Hise, Stanley L. Hazen, Anthony L. DeFranco, Paul L. Fox, Richard E. Morton, Paul E. Dicorleto, Maria Febbraio, Laura E. Nagy, Jonathan D. Smith, Jian-an Wang, Xiaoxia Li. MyD88-dependent interplay between myeloid and endothelial cells in the initiation and progression of obesity-associated inflammatory diseases. Journal of Experimental Medicine. 2014 May 5; 211(5):1003-1003.
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  17. Yu M, Zhou H, Zhao J, Xiao N, Roychowdhury S, Schmitt D, Hu B, Ransohoff RM, Harding CV, Hise AG, Hazen SL, DeFranco AL, Fox PL, Morton RE, Dicorleto PE, Febbraio M, Nagy LE, Smith JD, Wang JA, Li X. MyD88-dependent interplay between myeloid and endothelial cells in the initiation and progression of obesity-associated inflammatory diseases. J Exp Med. 2014 May 05; 211(5):887-907.
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  18. Hua Z, Gross AJ, Lamagna C, Ramos-Hernández N, Scapini P, Ji M, Shao H, Lowell CA, Hou B, DeFranco AL. Requirement for MyD88 signaling in B cells and dendritic cells for germinal center anti-nuclear antibody production in Lyn-deficient mice. J Immunol. 2014 Feb 01; 192(3):875-85.
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  19. Lamagna C, Hu Y, DeFranco AL, Lowell CA. B cell-specific loss of Lyn kinase leads to autoimmunity. J Immunol. 2014 Feb 01; 192(3):919-28.
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  20. Wheeler ML, Dong MB, Brink R, Zhong XP, DeFranco AL. Diacylglycerol kinase ? limits B cell antigen receptor-dependent activation of ERK signaling to inhibit early antibody responses. Sci Signal. 2013 Oct 15; 6(297):ra91.
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