Sunny Shin

faculty photo
Assistant Professor of Microbiology
Department: Microbiology
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
3610 Hamilton Walk
201B Johnson Pavilion
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: (215) 746-8410
Fax: (215) 898-9557
Lab: (215) 573-4752
B.S. (Biology, Advisor: Hidde Ploegh)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1998.
Ph.D. (Microbiology and Immunology, Advisor: Yueh-hsiu Chien)
Stanford University School of Medicine, 2004.
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Description of Research Expertise

My lab is interested in uncovering molecular and cellular mechanisms used by the host to defend itself against bacterial pathogens and how bacterial pathogens evade or manipulate host defenses.

We utilize the intracellular bacterial pathogen Legionella pneumophila, causative agent of the severe pneumonia Legionnaires' disease, as a model. Legionella has evolved numerous mechanisms to modulate eukaryotic processes and facilitate its survival and replication inside host cells. The ease with which Legionella can be genetically manipulated provides a powerful model system for dissecting immune responses to bacteria that differ in defined virulence properties and for elucidating mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis.

A major focus of our lab has involved the identification of innate immune pathways that enable the immune system to distinguish between virulent and avirulent bacteria and specifically mount robust proinflammatory responses against virulent bacteria. Initiation of an immune response against virulent Legionella involves both surface and cytosolic immune detection of bacterial products. One of these key immune pathways involves the inflammasome, a multi-protein cytosolic complex that activates the host proteases caspase-1 and caspase-11, which mediate downstream inflammatory responses critical for host defense.

We are also in the process of elucidating additional immune sensing pathways that contribute to host defense at a cellular and organismal level and bacterial virulence strategies used to manipulate or evade host cell processes. We are extending our studies to other bacterial pathogens in order to identify shared and unique features of immune detection and bacterial virulence. Insight into these areas will advance our understanding of bacterial pathogenesis, how the innate immune system distinguishes between virulent and avirulent bacteria and initiates antimicrobial immunity, and will ultimately aid in the design of effective antimicrobial therapies and vaccines.

Prospective students and postdocs are encouraged to contact Dr. Shin. Depending on the person's research interests, there are projects in several different areas.

Lab personnel:
Liam Bradley- Graduate Student (MVP)
Cierra Casson- Graduate Student (MVP)
Alan Copenhaver- Graduate Student (IGG)
Mark Boyer- Research Specialist
Janet Yu- Research Specialist
Matthew Duda- Undergraduate Student
Helen Fetaw- Undergraduate Student
Ingharan Siddarthan- Undergraduate Student
Brian Yan- Undergraduate Student

Selected Publications

Copenhaver, A.M., Casson, C.N., Nguyen, H.T., Duda, M.M., and Shin, S.: IL-1R signaling enables bystander cells to overcome bacterial blockade of host protein synthesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences In press, 2015.

Casson, C.N., Yu, J., Reyes, V.M., Taschuk, F.O., Yadav, A., Copenhaver, A.M., Nguyen, H.T., Collman, R.G., and Shin, S.: Human caspase-4 mediates non-canonical inflammasome activation against Gram-negative bacterial pathogens. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences In press, 2015.

Shin, S. and Brodsky, I.E.: The inflammasome: Learning from bacterial evasion strategies. Seminars in Immunology pii: : S1044-5323(15)00014-7, 2015.

Copenhaver, A.M., Casson, C.N., Nguyen, H.T., Fung, T.C., Duda, M.M., Roy, C.R., and Shin, S. : Alveolar macrophages and neutrophils are the primary reservoir for Legionella pneumophila and mediate cytosolic surveillance of type IV secretion. Infection and Immunity 82(10): 4325-36, 2014.

Philip, N.H., Dillon, C.P., Snyder, A.G., Fitzgerald, P., Wynosky-Dolfi, M.A., Zwack, E.E., Hu, B., Fitzgerald, L., Mauldin, E.A., Copenhaver, A.M., Shin, S., Wei, L., Parker, M., Zhang, J., Oberst, A., Green, D.R., and Brodsky, I. : Caspase-8 mediates caspase-1 processing and innate immune defense in response to bacterial blockade of NF-κB and MAPK signaling. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111(20): 7385-90, 2014.

Casson, C.N., Copenhaver, A.M., Zwack, E.E., Nguyen, H.T., Strowig, T., Javdan, B., Bradley, W.P., Fung, T.C., Flavell, R.A., Brodsky, I.E., and Shin, S.: Caspase-11 activation in response to bacterial secretion systems that access the host cytosol. PLOS Pathogens 9(6): e1003400, 2013.

Casson, C.N. and Shin, S. : Inflammasome-mediated cell death in response to bacterial pathogens that access the host cytosol: lessons from Legionella pneumophila. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 3: 111, 2013.

Fontana, M.F., Shin, S., and Vance, R.E.: Activation of host mitogen-activated protein kinases by secreted Legionella pneumophila effectors that inhibit host protein translation. Infection and Immunity 80(10): 3570-5, 2012.

Shin, S.: Innate immunity to intracellular pathogens: Lessons learned from Legionella pneumophila. Advances in Applied Microbiology. Elsevier, 79: 43-71, 2012.

Lippman, J., Müller, H.C., Naujoks, J., Tabeling, C., Shin, S., Witzenrath, M., Hellwig, K., Kirschning, C.J., Taylor, G.A., Barchet, W., Bauer, S., Suttorp, N., Roy, C.R., and Opitz, B. : Dissection of a type I interferon pathway in controlling bacterial intracellular infection in mice. Cellular Microbiology 13(11): 1668-82, 2011.

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Last updated: 05/07/2015
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