née McAnulty

“Developing Future Biologists: developmental biology for undergraduates from underserved communities”

Graniel, J.V.*, Teitel, J.*, Glineburg, M. R., Buttitta, L. A., Barolo, S., Allen, B. L. 
Development, 2023

Abstract: Developing Future Biologists (DFB) is an inclusive, trainee-run organization that strives to excite and engage the next generation of biologists, regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic status, in the field of developmental biology. DFB offers a week-long course consisting of active lectures, hands-on laboratory sessions, and professional development opportunities through interactions with scientists from a variety of backgrounds and careers. A major goal of DFB is to propel undergraduate students from underserved communities to pursue biomedical research opportunities and advanced degrees in science. To achieve this goal, we provide DFB participants with continuing access to a diverse network of scientists that students can utilize to secure opportunities and foster success throughout multiple stages of their research careers. Here, we describe the flourishing DFB program at the University of Michigan to encourage other institutions to create their own DFB programs.

*denotes equal contribution

“Transplacental Antibody Transfer of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Specific IgG in Non-Human Primate Mother-Infant Pairs”

Citron, M. P., McAnulty, J., Callahan, C., Knapp, W., Fontenot, J., Morales, P., Flynn, J. A., et al. (2021)
Pathogens, 2021

Abstract: One approach to protect new-borns against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is to vaccinate pregnant women in the last trimester of pregnancy. The boosting of circulating antibodies which can be transferred to the foetus would offer immune protection against the virus and ultimately the disease. Since non-human primates (NHPs) have similar reproductive anatomy, physiology, and antibody architecture and kinetics to humans, we utilized this preclinical species to evaluate maternal immunization (MI) using an RSV F subunit vaccine. Three species of NHPs known for their ability to be infected with human RSV in experimental challenge studies were tested for RSV-specific antibodies. African green monkeys had the highest overall antibody levels of the old-world monkeys evaluated and they gave birth to offspring with anti-RSV titers that were proportional to their mother. These higher overall antibody levels are associated with greater durability found in their offspring. Immunization of RSV seropositive AGMs during late pregnancy boosts RSV titers, which consequentially results in significantly higher titers in the vaccinated new-borns compared to the new-borns of unvaccinated mothers. These findings, accomplished in small treatment group sizes, demonstrate a model that provides an efficient, resource sparing and translatable preclinical in vivo system for evaluating vaccine candidates for maternal immunization.

“The Molecular ‘Myc-anisms’ Behind Myc-Driven Tumorigenesis and the Relevant Myc-Directed Therapeutics”

McAnulty, J. and DiFeo, A.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2020 [Review]

Abstract: MYC, a well-studied proto-oncogene that is overexpressed in >20% of tumors across all cancers, is classically known as “undruggable” due to its crucial roles in cell processes and its lack of a drug binding pocket. Four decades of research and creativity led to the discovery of a myriad of indirect (and now some direct!) therapeutic strategies targeting Myc. This review explores the various mechanisms in which Myc promotes cancer and highlights five key therapeutic approaches to disrupt Myc, including transcription, Myc-Max dimerization, protein stability, cell cycle regulation, and metabolism, in order to develop more specific Myc-directed therapies.

“miR-181a initiates and perpetuates oncogenic transformation through the regulation of innate immune signaling”

Knarr, M., Avelar, R.A., Sekhar, S.C., Kwiatkowski, L., Dziubinski, M., McAnulty, J., Skala, S., Avril, S., Drapkin, R., & DiFeo, A.
Nature Communications, 2020

Abstract: Genomic instability (GI) predisposes cells to malignant transformation, however the molecular mechanisms that allow for the propagation of cells with a high degree of genomic instability remain unclear. Here we report that miR-181a is able to transform fallopian tube secretory epithelial cells through the inhibition of RB1 and stimulator-of-interferon-genes (STING) to propagate cells with a high degree of GI. MiR-181a targeting of RB1 leads to profound nuclear defects and GI generating aberrant cytoplasmic DNA, however simultaneous miR-181a mediated inhibition of STING allows cells to bypass interferon mediated cell death. We also found that high miR-181a is associated with decreased IFNγ response and lymphocyte infiltration in patient tumors. DNA oncoviruses are the only known inhibitors of STING that allow for cellular transformation, thus, our findings are the first to identify a miRNA that can downregulate STING expression to suppress activation of intrinsic interferon signaling. This study introduces miR-181a as a putative biomarker and identifies the miR-181a-STING axis as a promising target for therapeutic exploitation.