Katja Brueckner, PhD

Title(s)Professor, Cell and Tissue Biology
SchoolSchool of Dentistry
Address35 Medical Center Way
San Francisco CA 94143
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    Collapse Education and Training
    Harvard Medical School, Boston, MAPostdoc2006Genetics
    European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) Heidelberg, GermanyPostdoc2000Developmental Biology
    European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and University of Heidelberg, GermanyPh.D.1999Cell Signaling
    Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry and Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany Dipl. Biol. (Masters)1994Molecular Biology

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    Katja Brueckner received her PhD. in biology and cell signalling from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and the University of Heidelberg, Germany. She performed her postdoctoral studies at the EMBL and Harvard Medical School. Katja was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Associate, long-term post-doctoral fellow of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP), and Special Fellow of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). For her post-doctoral studies, the LLS awarded Katja with the Brian P. ODell Memorial Research Award. Since joining the faculty of UCSF in late 2006, Katja has received a Hellman Family Scholar Award, an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award, an American Heart Association career development award, and she is funded by research grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

    The Brückner lab addresses fundamental questions in development, homeostasis, and malignant disease, studying paradigms in the invertebrate genetic model organism Drosophila melanogaster. Current research focuses on cell signaling, the role of the microenvironment, hematopoiesis, innate immunity, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and organ development.

    (1) Regulation of hematopoiesis by sensory neurons and their environmental inputs
    One of the outstanding questions in animal development, tissue homeostasis and malignant disease is how extrinsic sensory stimuli regulate biological systems through stem cell niches and tissue microenvironments. We address this question using a simple model of hematopoietic sites (hematopoietic pockets) in the Drosophila larva (Makhijani et al. Development 2011; Makhijani et al. Fly 2012; Gold and Brückner, Seminars in Immunology 2015; Makhijani et al. Nature Communications 2017). In this system, blood cells (hemocytes) rely on sensory neuron microenvironments for their localization and trophic survival (Makhijani et al. Development 2011), and hemocyte proliferation is promoted by Activin-b produced by active sensory neurons (Makhijani et al. Nature Communications 2017). Current research focuses on mechanisms of blood cell transdifferentiation, dissecting the role of specific sensory neurons and their environmental activation in this process (Corcoran et al. bioRxiv 2020). We further examine the contribution of other neuron-produced factors on blood cell development and pathologies.

    (2) Multi-tissue signaling relays in innate immunity
    Innate immunity relies on humoral responses (e.g. expression of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs)) to protect the organism from infection and other pathological conditions. While core signaling pathways of the NFkB family and Jak/Stat signaling are well established in this context, it is far less understood how multiple organs and tissues communicate with each other to elicit powerful local humoral immune responses. We study this question of inter-organ/-tissue communication in immunity using a simple Drosophila model. In adult Drosophila, the biggest reservoir of hemocytes surrounds the extensive respiratory epithelia (tracheal air sacs) of the thorax and head (Sanchez Bosch et al. Dev Cell 2019). The principal role of the adult blood cell system is to relay the trigger of bacterial infection to a humoral immune response in the respiratory epithelia and fat body (Sanchez Bosch et al. Dev Cell 2019). We dissect mechanisms of this relay including the coordination of multiple signaling pathways and signaling in multiple tissues.

    (3) Signaling mechanisms of epithelial-mesenchymal transition
    Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a transdifferentiation process of epithelial cells undergoing shape- and migratory changes. A poorly understood group of EMT inducers are Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMPs), secreted ligands of the TGF-β family. BMP-induced EMT drives organ development and tumor metastasis, e.g. in pancreatic cancer. However, the cell biological effects and cooperating signaling pathways of BMP-induced EMT are still under scrutiny. We investigate this question using a dual Drosophila model consisting of complementary cell-based and in vivo systems. Through RNAi screening, RNAseq and ChIPseq analyses in this cell-based model, we identified new signaling mediators and pathways that cooperate with BMP signaling to induce EMT; findings are confirmed by Drosophila genetics in vivo.

    Collapse Research 
    Collapse Research Activities and Funding
    BMP-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition in a dual Drosophila model
    RAP/Academic Senate N/AAug 1, 2020 - Jul 31, 2021
    Molecular mechanisms of a multi-tissue innate immune response
    NIH R01GM131094Aug 1, 2019 - May 31, 2023
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Regulation of cell signaling and developmental adaptation by sensory stimulation
    NIH R01GM112083Sep 1, 2014 - Aug 31, 2019
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Mechanisms of hematopoietic regulation by the nervous system
    NIH R56HL118726Sep 1, 2014 - Aug 31, 2016
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Regulation of hematopoietic development by the peripheral nervous system
    National Science Foundation IOS-1355222Mar 15, 2014 - Feb 28, 2019
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Mechanisms of hematopoietic regulation by the nervous system
    RAP/Academic Senate N/AFeb 1, 2013 - Jan 31, 2015
    Molecular Mechanisms of Hematopoietic Regulation by the Nervous System
    American Cancer Society RSG DDC-122595Jan 1, 2013 - Dec 31, 2017
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Regulatory principles of the nervous system microenvironment in a Drosophila model of hematopoiesis
    American Heart Association 13BGIA13730001Jan 1, 2013 - Dec 31, 2014
    Control of hematopoiesis by the peripheral nervous system: a Drosophila model
    Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research (PBBR) N/AAug 1, 2011 - Jul 31, 2014
    Control of hematopoiesis by the peripheral nervous system: a Drosophila model
    Hellman Family Foundation N/AJul 1, 2011 - Jun 30, 2012
    Novel suppressors of cell survival and proliferation
    American Cancer Society Individual Research AwardMar 1, 2008 - Feb 28, 2009
    Novel suppressors of cell survival and proliferation
    Sandler Foundation N/AFeb 1, 2008 - Jan 31, 2010

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    Collapse Publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help. to make corrections and additions.
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    Altmetrics Details PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
    1. Adult Drosophila Lack Hematopoiesis but Rely on a Blood Cell Reservoir at the Respiratory Epithelia to Relay Infection Signals to Surrounding Tissues. Dev Cell. 2019 12 16; 51(6):787-803.e5. Sanchez Bosch P, Makhijani K, Herboso L, Gold KS, Baginsky R, Woodcock KJ, Alexander B, Kukar K, Corcoran S, Jacobs T, Ouyang D, Wong C, Ramond EJV, Rhiner C, Moreno E, Lemaitre B, Geissmann F, Brückner K. PMID: 31735669.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 5     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    2. Renal Function: Guardian of Immune Homeostasis. Immunity. 2019 10 15; 51(4):596-598. Brückner K. PMID: 31618649.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    
    3. Regulation of Drosophila hematopoietic sites by Activin-ß from active sensory neurons. Nat Commun. 2017 07 27; 8:15990. Makhijani K, Alexander B, Rao D, Petraki S, Herboso L, Kukar K, Batool I, Wachner S, Gold KS, Wong C, O'Connor MB, Brückner K. PMID: 28748922.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 10     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    4. Extracellular Reactive Oxygen Species Drive Apoptosis-Induced Proliferation via Drosophila Macrophages. Curr Biol. 2016 Mar 07; 26(5):575-84. Fogarty CE, Diwanji N, Lindblad JL, Tare M, Amcheslavsky A, Makhijani K, Brückner K, Fan Y, Bergmann A. PMID: 26898463.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 41     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    5. A systems-level interrogation identifies regulators of Drosophila blood cell number and survival. PLoS Genet. 2015 Mar; 11(3):e1005056. Sopko R, Lin YB, Makhijani K, Alexander B, Perrimon N, Brückner K. PMID: 25749252.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 5     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    6. Assaying blood cell populations of the Drosophila melanogaster larva. Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE). 2015; (In press). Petraki, S., Alexander, B., Brückner, K..
    7. Drosophila as a model for the two myeloid blood cell systems in vertebrates. Exp Hematol. 2014 Aug; 42(8):717-27. Gold KS, Brückner K. PMID: 24946019.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 23     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    8. Arginine Methylation Initiates BMP-Induced Smad Signaling. Mol Cell. 2013 Jul 11; 51(1):5-19. Xu J, Wang AH, Oses-Prieto J, Makhijani K, Katsuno Y, Pei M, Yan L, Zheng YG, Burlingame A, Brückner K, Derynck R. PMID: 23747011.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 37     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    9. Of blood cells and the nervous system: hematopoiesis in the Drosophila larva. Fly (Austin). 2012 Oct-Dec; 6(4):254-60. Makhijani K, Brückner K. PMID: 23022764.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 20     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    10. Schnurri regulates hemocyte function to promote tissue recovery after DNA damage. J Cell Sci. 2012 Mar 15; 125(Pt 6):1393-400. Kelsey EM, Luo X, Brückner K, Jasper H. PMID: 22275438.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 10     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    11. Blood cells need glia, too: a new role for the nervous system in the bone marrow niche. Cell Stem Cell. 2011 Dec 02; 9(6):493-5. Brückner K. PMID: 22136920.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 6     Fields:    
    12. The peripheral nervous system supports blood cell homing and survival in the Drosophila larva. Development. 2011 Dec; 138(24):5379-91. Makhijani K, Alexander B, Tanaka T, Rulifson E, Brückner K. PMID: 22071105.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 78     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    13. Dynamic switch of negative feedback regulation in Drosophila Akt-TOR signaling. PLoS Genet. 2010 Jun 17; 6(6):e1000990. Kockel L, Kerr KS, Melnick M, Brückner K, Hebrok M, Perrimon N. PMID: 20585550.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 27     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    14. The PDGF/VEGF receptor controls blood cell survival in Drosophila. Dev Cell. 2004 Jul; 7(1):73-84. Brückner K, Kockel L, Duchek P, Luque CM, Rørth P, Perrimon N. PMID: 15239955.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 96     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    15. The collagen receptor DDR2 regulates proliferation and its elimination leads to dwarfism. . 2001 May; 2(5):446-52. Labrador JP, Azcoitia V, Tuckermann J, Lin C, Olaso E, Mañes S, Brückner K, Goergen JL, Lemke G, Yancopoulos G, Angel P, Martínez C, Klein R. PMID: 11375938.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:
    16. Glycosyltransferase activity of Fringe modulates Notch-Delta interactions. Nature. 2000 Jul 27; 406(6794):411-5. Brückner K, Perez L, Clausen H, Cohen S. PMID: 10935637.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 187     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    17. EphrinB ligands recruit GRIP family PDZ adaptor proteins into raft membrane microdomains. Neuron. 1999 Mar; 22(3):511-24. Brückner K, Pablo Labrador J, Scheiffele P, Herb A, Seeburg PH, Klein R. PMID: 10197531.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 76     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    18. Signaling by Eph receptors and their ephrin ligands. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1998 Jun; 8(3):375-82. Brückner K, Klein R. PMID: 9687349.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 23     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    19. Tyrosine phosphorylation of transmembrane ligands for Eph receptors. Science. 1997 Mar 14; 275(5306):1640-3. Brückner K, Pasquale EB, Klein R. PMID: 9054357.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 88     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    20. Similarities and differences in the way transmembrane-type ligands interact with the Elk subclass of Eph receptors. Mol Cell Neurosci. 1996; 8(2-3):199-209. Brambilla R, Brückner K, Orioli D, Bergemann AD, Flanagan JG, Klein R. PMID: 8918835.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 8     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
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