Recognizing foreign DNA within cells is critical for mounting an effective immune response against infection. Over the last decade, the role of the cGAS/STING pathway in this process has been of substantial interest and investment. However, it’s become clear that other molecular pathways—in particular, one initiated by the sensing of foreign DNA by DNA-dependent Protein Kinase (DNA-PK)—are also important for this beneficial immune activity. The discovery of this pathway holds major implications for cancer treatment, as activating this pathway, either alone or in combination with cGAS/STING, could provide a novel way to trigger immune responses against tumors.
Therefore, Dr. Emily Schutsky aims to create the tools necessary to study this novel pathway and characterize its molecular mechanisms, which will allow her team to understand fundamental aspects of this DNA sensing pathway and how it relates to STING activity. Ultimately, the insights uncovered by Dr. Schutsky’s work will aid in the development of strategies to leverage this pathway in combination with existing treatments to create even more potent immunotherapies for cancer.
Projects and Grants
Elucidating the role of the damage response protein DNA-dependent Protein Kinase (DNA-PK) in innate immunity
University of Washington | All Cancers | 2019 | Daniel B. Stetson, Ph.D.
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