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Associate Professor
Department of Translational Medicine and Physiology

Education and Training

PhD in Microbiology, East Tennessee State University
Postdoctoral Training in Neuroscience, Immunology, and Genetics, Duke University


We are interested in understanding how the nervous system regulates innate immunity. Upon pathogen infection, cellular stress pathways and microbial killing pathways are rapidly activated by the host innate immune system. These pathways must be tightly regulated as insufficient immune responses exacerbate infection, whereas excessive responses lead to prolonged inflammation, tissue damage or even death. Increasing evidence indicates that the nervous system regulates the immune system to help maintain immunological homeostasis. However, the precise mechanisms of such regulation are not well understood. We have discovered multiple immunomodulatory neural circuits in Caenorhabditis elegans that regulate the innate immune response to pathogens.  We are dissecting these neural circuits at molecular and cellular levels to elucidate how neural-immune regulation works.

Selected Publications

Wibisono P and Sun J*.  Protocol to measure bacterial intake and gut clearance of Caenorhabditis elegans. STAR Protocol 2022, 3(3): 101558.

Wibisono P, Wibisono S, Watteyne J, Chen C, Sellegounder D, Beets I, Liu Y*, and Sun J*. Neuronal GPCR NMUR-1 regulates distinct immune responses to different pathogens. *Co-corresponding author. Cell Reports 2022, 38(6):110321.

Wibisono P and Sun J, Isolation of active Caenorhabditis elegans nuclear extract and reconstitution for in vitro transcription. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 2021, 174:10.3791/62723.

Wibisono P and Sun J, Neuro-immune communication in C. elegans defense against pathogen infection. Current Research in Immunology 2021, 2: 60-65.

Liu Y* and Sun J*. Detection of pathogens and regulation of immunity by the Caenorhabditis elegans nervous system. mBio 2021, 12(2): e02301-20. *co-corresponding author.

Wibisono P, Liu Y, and Sun J. A novel in vitro Caenorhabditis elegans transcription system. BMC Molecular and Cell Biology 2020, 21(1):87.

Sellegounder D, Liu Y, Wibisono P, Chen C, Leap D, and Sun J. Neuronal GPCR NPR-8 regulates C. elegans defense against pathogen infection. Science Advances 2019, 5(11):eaaw4717.

Sellegounder D*, Yuan CH*, Wibisono P, Liu Y, and Sun J. Octopaminergic signaling mediates neural regulation of innate immunity in Caenorhabditis elegans. mBio 2018, 9(5). *co-first author.

Liu Y and Sun J. G protein-coupled receptors mediate neural regulation of innate immune responses in Caenorhabditis elegans. Receptors & Clinical Investigation 2017, 4: e1543.

Liu Y, Sellegounder S, and Sun J.  Neuronal GPCR OCTR-1 regulates innate immunity by controlling protein synthesis in Caenorhabditis elegans. Scientific Reports 2016, 6:36832.

Sun J, Aballay A and Singh V. Cellular responses to infections in C. elegans. Encyclopedia of Cell Biology, Sept 18, 2015

Hall J*, Sun J*, Slade J, Kintner J, Bambino M, Whittimore J and Schoborg R. Host nectin-1 is required for efficient Chlamydia trachomatis serovar E development. Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology. (* co-first author) 2014 Nov 6; 4:158.

Sun J, Liu Y and Aballay A. Organismal regulation of XBP-1-mediated unfolded protein response during development and immune activation. EMBO reports 2012, 13: 855-860.Comment in: EMBO reports 2012, 13:766-768.

Sun J, Singh V, Kajino-Sakamoto R and Aballay A. Neuronal GPCR controls innate immunity by regulating noncanonical unfolded protein response genes. Science 2011, 332:729-732.Comment in: Science 2011, 332:673-674.

Schoborg RV, Sun J, Daniels C, Whittimore J and Kintner J. The Host Nectin-1 Protein Regulates Chlamydial Development. Proceedings of the 12th International Symposium on Human Chlamydial Infections. (Book chapter). 2010.

Sun J and Schoborg R. The host adherens junction molecule nectin-1 is degraded by chlamydial protease-like activity factor (CPAF) in Chlamydia trachomatis-infected genital epithelial cells. Microbes and Infection2009, 11: 12-19.

Sun J, Kintner J and Schoborg R. The host adherens junction molecule nectin-1 is down-regulated in Chlamydia trachomatis-infected genital epithelial cells. Microbiology 2008, 154: 1290-1299.

Vanover J, Sun J, Deka S, Kintner J and Schoborg R. Herpes Simplex Virusco-infection induces C. trachomatis persistence through a novel mechanism. Microbiology 2007, 154: 971-978.

Deka S, Vanover J, Sun J, Kintner J, Whittimore J and Schoborg R. An early event in the Herpes Simplex Virus type-2 replication cycle is sufficient to induce Chlamydia trachomatis persistence. Cellular Microbiology 2007, 9:725-737.

Defoe DM, Adams LB, Sun, J, Wisecarver SN and Levine EM. Defects in retinal pigment epithelium cell proliferation and retinal attachment in mutant mice with p27(Kip1) gene ablation. Molecular Vision 2007, 13: 273-286.

Schoborg R, Vanover J, Deka S, Sun J, Whittimore J and Kintner J. Herpes simple virus type 2 (HSV-2) co-infection induced chlamydial persistence requires an early event in the viral replication cycle. Proceedings of the Eleventh International Symposium on Human Chlamydial Infection. (Book chapter). 2006.

Sun Jingru
Associate Professor

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