The Dark Side of DNA: How the Immune System Senses DNA as a Danger Signal
Zhijian "James" Chen, Ph.D.
George L. MacGregor Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science; Director of the Inflammation Research Center; Professor of Molecular Biology; HHMI Investigator
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Zhijian “James” Chen’s research into complex cellular biochemistry has led to the discovery of pathways and proteins that trigger immune and stress responses. Chen has identified proteins, such as the mitochondrial protein MAVS, that are crucial to the body’s defense against RNA viruses such as influenza and Ebola. Now, Chen and his team are dissecting a signaling pathway involving a novel DNA sensor – cyclic GMP-AMP (cGAMP) synthase, or cGAS – which activates an interferon response that may play a role in immune defense against pathogens and malignant cells, as well as in autoimmune diseases such as lupus. Treatment of these autoimmune diseases could involve chemical inhibition of cGAS, whereas cGAMP and its derivatives may be used as adjuvants for vaccines and cancer immunotherapies.
This page was last updated on Monday, August 28, 2023