Peter D. Katsikis MD, PhD

Katsikis-n-51x53px Professor and Head of the Department of Immunology

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 Infection and Immunity Research Group

Our research group investigates immunity to pathogens. A major focus are cytotoxic CD8+ T lymphocytes (CTL), cells which can kill other cells and play an important role in controlling viral infections and cancer. An important goal of this research program is to elucidate the signaling and molecular requirements for the generation of successful effector and memory CTL and to understand why these cells fail in certain chronic infections and cancer.


To understand the molecular pathways that control of CTL responses, we study the signaling requirements and gene regulation networks that enable successful CTL responses. Through manipulation of gene expression and signal regulation pathways via genetically modified and conditional knock out animals, we aim to identify those mechanisms that contribute to successful clearance of viral infections. Current studies in our laboratory utilizing animal models that employ influenza virus and Listeria monocytogenes infections and mouse tumor models to understand the importance of PI3 kinase signaling pathway, characterizing the role of post-transcriptional gene expression regulation in CTL immunity, and elucidating mechanisms of neonatal immunity.

Figure-2-IPA-map-PNG-255wAnother central aim of our research is to understand why CTL fail in HIV infection. Studies in our laboratory focus on understanding how CTL immunity develops and is regulated during acute HIV infection and what molecular and signaling pathways are affected in HIV-specific CTL during the chronic phase of HIV infection. The ultimate goal of this research is to discover novel means of restoring maximal functionality within these antiviral cells. To identify CTL enhancing targets, we are using retroviral vectors to screen for post-transcriptional gene expression regulators that can enhance CTL immunity in vitro and in vivo. These studies are being carried out in anti-viral CTL from both mice and HIV-infected patients.


 Group members

Figure 3-IIG group picture-10Peter Katsikis, MD, PhD, Group leader
Yvonne Müller, PhD
Jennifer Hope, PhD student
Christopher Stairiker, PhD student
Inge Brouwers-Haspels,
        Research Assistant
Marjan van Meurs, Research Assistant 


 Selected Publications

(See for all publications Katsikis PD in Pubmed)

Johnson BM, Fraietta JA, Gracias DT, Hope JL, Stairiker CJ, Patel PR, Mueller YM, McHugh MD, Jablonowski LJ, Wheatley MA, Katsikis PD.
Acute exposure to ZnO nanoparticles induces autophagic immune cell death.
Nanotoxicology. Nov 7:1-12, 2014.

Stelekati E, Shin H, Doering TA, Dolfi DV, Zeigler CG, Beiting D, Liboon J, Wolski D, Katsikis PD, Shen H, Roos DS, W. Haining WN, Lauer G, Wherry EJ.
Bystander Chronic Infection Negatively Impacts Development of CD8 T Cell Memory.
Immunity. 40:801-13, 2014.

Fraietta JA, Mueller YM, Lozenski KL, Ratner D, Boesteanu AC, Hancock AS, Lackman-Smith C, Zentner IJ, Chaiken IM, Chung S, LeGrice SF, Snyder BA, Mankowski MK, Jones NM, Hope JL, Gupta P, Anderson SH, Wigdahl B, Katsikis PD.
Abasic phosphorothioate oligomers inhibit HIV-1 reverse transcription and block virus transmission across polarized ectocervical organ cultures.
Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 58:7056-71, 2014.

Fraietta JA, Mueller YM, Yang G, Boesteanu AC, Gracias DT, Do DH, Hope JL, Kathuria N, McGettigan SE, Lewis MG, Giavedoni LD, Jacobson JM, Katsikis PD.
Type I interferon upregulates Bak and contributes to T cell loss during human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
PLoS Pathogens. 9:e1003658, 2013.

Gracias DT, Stelekati E, Hope JL, Boesteanu AC, Doering TA, Norton J, Mueller YM, Fraietta JA, Wherry EJ, Turner M, Katsikis PD.
The microRNA miR-155 controls CD8(+) T cell responses by regulating interferon signaling.
Nat Immunol. 14:593-602, 2013.

Turner M, Katsikis PD.
A new mechanism of gene regulation mediated by noncoding RNA.
J Immunol. 189:3-4, 2012.

Artlett CA, Sassi-Gaha S, Rieger JL, Boesteanu AC, Feghali-Bostwick CA, Katsikis PD.
The Inflammasome and Caspase-1 Involvement in Systemic Sclerosis Fibroblasts Mediates Fibrosis and Myofibroblast Differentiation.
Arth. Rheum. 63:3563-74, 2011.

Schoenberger SP, Pulendran B, Katsikis PD.
4th Aegean Conference on the Crossroads between Innate and Adaptive Immunity.
Nat Immunol. 13:7-10, 2011.

Dolfi DV, Duttagupta PA, Boesteanu AC, Mueller YM, Oliai C, Borowski AB, Katsikis PD.
Dendritic cells and CD28 costimulation are required to sustain virus-specific CD8+ T cell responses during the effector phase in vivo.
J. Immunol. 186:4599–4608, 2011.

Katsikis PD, Mueller YM, Villinger F.
The cytokine network of acute HIV infection: a promising target for vaccines and therapy to reduce viral set-point?
PLoS Pathogens. 7: e1002055, 2011.

Mueller YM, Do DH, Altork SR, Artlett CM, Gracely EJ, Katsetos CD, Legido A, Villinger F, Altman JD, Brown CR, Lewis MG, Katsikis PD.
IL-15 treatment during acute simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection increases viral set point and accelerates disease progression despite the induction of stronger SIV-specific CD8+ T cell responses.
J Immunol. 180:350-60, 2008.

Borowski AB, Boesteanu AC, Mueller YM, Carafides C, Altman JD, Jennings SR, Katsikis PD.
Memory CD8+ T cells require CD28 costimulation.
J. Immunol. 179:6494-6503, 2007.

Mueller YM, Petrovas C, Bojczuk PM, Dimitriou ID, Beer B, Silvera P, Villinger F, Cairns JS, Gracely EJ, Lewis MG, Katsikis PD.
Interleukin-15 increases effector memory CD8+ t cells and NK Cells in simian immunodeficiency virus-infected macaques.
J Virol. 79:4877-85, 2005.

Mueller YM, Bojczuk PM, Halstead ES, Kim AH, Witek J, Altman JD, Katsikis PD.
IL-15 enhances survival and function of HIV-specific CD8+ T cells.
Blood. 101:1024-9, 2003.

Halstead ES, Mueller YM, Altman JD, Katsikis PD.
In vivo stimulation of CD137 broadens primary antiviral CD8+ T cell responses.
Nat Immunol. 3:536-41, 2002.

Mueller YM, De Rosa SC, Hutton JA, Witek J, Roederer M, Altman JD, Katsikis PD.
Increased CD95/Fas-induced apoptosis of HIV-specific CD8(+) T cells.
Immunity. 15:871-82, 2001.