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Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Natalie Sutkowski, PhD

Sutkowski PictureAssistant Professor
Microbiology & Immunology

1994-2002  Postdoctoral, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA   

1994  Joint Ph.D., RutgersUniversity & University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Contact Info
Tel: 843-792-5012
HCC 512D

Research Interests

Key Words:
Superantigens, tumor viruses, Epstein-Barr virus, human papillomavirus, endogenous retroviruses, B lymphocytes, monoclonal antibodies.

The scientific focus of our laboratory is to study the interactions of viruses with the immune system, with translational emphases on cancer and infectious disease. There are two major projects ongoing: 1) investigating tumor virus immunity during carcinogenesis and lymphomagenesis; and 2) developing therapeutic human monoclonal antibodies using an in vitro technology invented in our lab (International Patent Application No. 08797131.3-1521 PCT/US2008/072124).

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and human papillomavirus (HPV) are common tumor viruses causing human cancers. Our lab looks at the interaction of these oncogenic viruses with a human endogenous retrovirus. We discovered that both EBV and HPV transactivate the endogenous retrovirus, which encodes a superantigen that strongly stimulates the immune system. The superantigen is expressed in EBV and HPV infected cancers, suggesting a possible etiological role. Superantigens cause localized inflammation, which might affect viral tumorigenesis and immune surveillance. Efforts are directed at controlling the superantigen stimulation for immunotherapy. We also study the role of EBV infection on B cell differentiation and immunoglobulin secretion, with regards to cancer and autoimmunity.

Human monoclonal antibodies are a class of drugs known as biologicals that have been used therapeutically in cancer, autoimmunity and infectious disease. Our lab has developed a novel method for creating fully human antibodies in vitro, using EBV to immortalize human B cells, which are then induced to differentiate into antibody producing cells. This creates reusable libraries of antibody producing cells, which can be screened for various antibodies of interest. We are developing monoclonal antibodies for use as cancer therapeutics, targeting tumor antigens (nucleolin) and angiogenic agents (placenta growth factor), and we are also developing antibodies for biodefense purposes, targeting lethal pathogens (H5N1 avian influenza virus) and toxins (Staphylococcal enterotoxins, ricin B).

Recent Publications | Additional Publications

Gillespie MB, Rubinchik S, Hoel B, Sutkowski N. (2009) Human papillomavirus and oropharyngeal cancer: what you need to know in 2009. Curr Treat Options Oncol 10(5-6):296-307. PMID: 19768554

Hsiao FC, Tai AK, Deglon A, Sutkowski N, Longnecker R, Huber BT. (2009) EBV LMP-2A employs a novel mechanism to transactivate the HERV-K18 superantigen through its ITAMVirology 385(1):261-6. PMID: 19070345

Gillespie MB, Smith J, Gibbs K, McRackan T, Rubinchik S, Day TA, Sutkowski N. (2008) Human papillomavirus and head and neck cancer: a growing concern. J S C Med Assoc 104(8):247-51. Review. PMID: 19326612

Tai AK, Lin M, Chang F, Chen G, Hsiao F, Sutkowski N, Huber BT. (2006) Murine Vbeta3+ and Vbeta7+ T cell subsets are specific targets for the HERV-K18 Env superantigen. J Immunol 177(5):3178-84. PMID: 16920956

Research Support

Title: “ Placenta growth factor inhibition in head and neck cancer.”
Role: PI
Funding Period: 9/15/2010 – 8/31/2012

Title: “Coordinating Center of Excellence in Social Promotion of Health Equity Research; Project 2: Role of HPV in head and neck cancer in AA and EA patients.”
Role: MUSC Subaward PI
Funding Period: 7/01/2010 – 6/30/2015

Title: “Antibody immunotherapy targeting pro-angiogenic placental growth factor in head and neck carcinoma.”
Agency: NIH/NIDCR MUSC Dental Research Training Grant
Role: Postdoctoral Mentor
Funding Period: 6/14/2010 – 6/13/2011

Title: “Nucleolin targeted cancer immunotherapy.”
Agency: Hollings Cancer Center Translational Research Pilot Award
Role: Co-PI
Funding Period: 8/01/2010 - 7/31/2011

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