Sunny Shin, Ph.D.

faculty photo
Professor of Microbiology
Member, Institute for Immunology, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Core Leadership Council Member, Penn Center for Genome Integrity, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Program Leader, Innate and Adaptive Immunity to Pathogens, Institute for Immunology
Vice-Chair of Diversity and Inclusion, Department of Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
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.
Cert. (Unconscious Bias Training: Impact on Decision Making)
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, 2020.
Cert. (Inclusive and Equitable Teaching Seminar)
Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Pennsylvania, 2021.
Cert. (HHMI Gilliam Mentorship Training)
HHMI and CIMER, 2022.
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Description of Research Expertise

My lab is interested in uncovering innate immune mechanisms used by the host to defend itself against bacterial pathogens and how bacterial pathogens evade host immunity to cause disease.

We study host:pathogen interactions using a variety of gram-negative bacteria, including the intracellular bacterial pathogens Legionella pneumophila, Coxiella burnetii, and Salmonella Typhimurium, and the extracellular pathogen Yersinia, with the goal of identifying shared and unique features of innate immunity and bacterial virulence.

A major focus of our lab is to understand how the immune system distinguishes between virulent and avirulent bacteria and tailors appropriate antimicrobial responses. One key immune pathway involves the inflammasome, a multi-protein cytosolic complex that activates the host proteases caspase-1 and caspase-11 upon cytosolic detection of bacterial products. These caspases mediate the release of IL-1 family cytokines and other inflammatory factors critical for host defense, but overexuberant activation can lead to pathological outcomes such as septic shock. We are currently pursuing how mouse and human inflammasomes differentially respond to bacterial infection.

We are also interested in elucidating how the immune system successfully overcomes the ability of pathogens to suppress critical immune functions. We recently found that infected macrophages circumvent Legionella's ability to block host translation by selectively synthesizing and releasing key cytokines. These cytokines then coordinate crosstalk between the alveolar epithelium and bystander immune cells to generate an effective immune response. We are interested in defining additional mechanisms that facilitate communication between infected and bystander cells and promote antimicrobial defense.

Insight into these different 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 to learn more about our research.

Lab personnel:
Suhas Bobba, Ph.D.- Postdoctoral Fellow (co-mentored with Igor Brodsky)
Mark Boyer, M.S.- Research Specialist C
Klarissa Diaz- Undergraduate Student (FERBS Fellow)
Mikel Haggadone, Ph.D.- Postdoctoral Fellow (AHA fellowship)
Allyson Lu- Undergraduate Student
Emily O'Rourke- Graduate Student (CAMB-MVP; CAMB T32 training grant)
Rachel Richards- Graduate Student (CAMB-MVP; Penn Presidential fellowship)
Stephanie Schreiner- Graduate Student (IGG; NSF fellowship)
Jaydeen Sewell- Graduate Student (CAMB-MVP; diversity supplement)
Matthew Sherman, Ph.D.- Postdoctoral Fellow (co-mentored with Igor Brodsky)
Talia Smith- Undergraduate Student (Vagelos Scholar)
Victor Vazquez Marrero- Graduate Student (IGG; NSF fellowship)
Kimberly Wodzanowki, Ph.D.- PennPORT Postdoctoral Fellow
Ling Wu, M.D., Ph.D.- Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellow
Isabel Vargas- CAMB-MVP rotation student

Selected Publications

Egan, M.S., O'Rourke, E.A., Kumar Mageswaran, S., Zuo, B., Martynyuk, I., Demissie, T., Hunter, E.N., Bass, A.R., Chang, Y.-W., Brodsky, I.E., and Shin, S.: Inflammasomes primarily restrict cytosolic Salmonella replication within human macrophages. eLife 12(RP90107), 2023.

Zhang, J., Brodsky, I.E., and Shin, S.: Yersinia deploys type III-secreted effectors to evade caspase-4 inflammasome activation in human cells. mBio e0131023, 2023.

Bass, A.R., Egan, M.S., Alexander-Floyd, J., Lopes Fischer, N., Doerner, J., Shin, S.: Human GBP1 facilitates rupture of the Legionella-containing vacuole and inflammasome activation mBio in press, 2023.

Boyer, M.A., Lopes Fischer, N., and Shin, S.: TNF and type I IFN induction of the IRG1-itaconate pathway restricts Coxiella burnetii replication within mouse macrophages. bioRxiv doi: 10.1101/2023.07.07.548079, 2023.

Pollock, T.Y., Vazquez Marrero, V.R., Brodsky, I.E., & Shin, S.: TNF licenses macrophages to undergo rapid caspase-1, -11, and -8-mediated cell death that restricts Legionella pneumophila infection. PLOS Pathogens 19(6): e1010767, 2023.

Matsuda, R.^, Sorobetea, D.^, Zhang, J.^, Peterson, S.T., Grayczyk, J.P., Herrmann, B., Yost, W., O’Neill, R., Bohrer, A.C., Lanza, M., Assenmacher, C.-A., Mayer-Barber, K.D., Shin, S.*, Brodsky, I.E.*: A TNF-IL-1 circuit controls Yersinia within intestinal granulomas. bioRxiv Page: doi:, 2023 Notes: ^co-first author; *co-corresponding author.

Grayczyk, J.P., Egan, M.S., Liu, L., Aunins, E., Wynoski-Dolfi, M.A., Canna, S., Minn, A.J., Shin, S.*, and Brodsky, I.E.*: TLR priming licenses NAIP inflammasome activation by immunoevasive ligands. bioRxiv Page: doi:, 2023 Notes: *Co-corresponding authors.

Naseer, N.*, Egan, M.*, Reyes Ruiz, V.M.*, Scott, W.P., Hunter, E.N., Demissie, T., Rauch, I., Brodsky, I.E., Shin, S.: Human NAIP/NLRC4 and NLRP3 inflammasomes detect Salmonella type III secretion system activities to restrict intracellular bacterial replication. PLOS Pathogens 18(1): e1009718, 2022.

Alexander-Floyd, J.^, Bass, A.R.^, Harberts, E.M.^, Grubaugh, D., Buxbaum, J.D., Brodsky, I.E., Ernst, R.K.*, Shin, S.* : Lipid A variants activate human TLR4 and the noncanonical inflammasome differently and require the core oligosaccharide for inflammasome activation. Infection and Immunity 90(8): e0020822, 2022 Notes: ^co-first authors; *co-corresponding authors.

Lopes Fischer, N., Boyer, M.A., Bradley, W.P., Spruce, L.A., Fazelinia, H., Shin, S.: A Coxiella burnetii effector interacts with the host PAF1 complex and suppresses the innate immune response. bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2022.04.20.488957, 2022.

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Last updated: 02/15/2024
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