Joseph T. Opferman, Ph.D.

Title
Associate Member
Department
Department of Biochemistry
Institution
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Address
MS 340 Room D4063D
262 Danny Thomas Place
City, State, Zip
Memphis, TN 38105
Phone
(901) 495-5524
E-mail
joseph.opferman[at]stjude.org
Website
http://www.stjude.org/stjude/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=8cc310e88ce70110VgnVCM1000001e0215acRCRD&vgnextchannel=1f05de1207118010VgnVCM1000000e2015acRCRD
Research Field
Developmental Biology
Award Year
2006

Research

White blood cells called neutrophils and macrophages are the first responders of the immune system. However, once these protective cells have obliterated their quarry, they must quickly commit suicide, so the immune system can return to normal and the body can dispose of the toxic microbial waste and damaged cells. We have established a central regulator of this balance between life and death of myeloid lineages, a gene called MCL-1. MCL-1 produces a protein that protects neutrophils against cell suicide, or apoptosis, as they mature in the bone marrow. However in macrophages, the MCL-1 protein appears to be dispensable for maturation, but instead governs the macrophages' life-and-death balance, promoting survival while the macrophage works to eliminate extracellular microbes. Using an array of genetic, biochemical and cell and molecular biological techniques, the my lab explores how MCL-1 activity is regulated in mice, and how its dysregulation contributes to malignancies and resistance to chemotherapy.