Susan R. Schwab

Associate Professor, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, Molecular Pathogenesis. Department of Pathology

Ph.D., 2003 University of California, Berkeley

Schwab Lab
Lymphocyte Trafficking, Inflammation, Sphingosine-1-phosphate

Contact Information
Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine
Alexandria Center for Life Sciences
430 East 29th Street, Floor 4, Lab 460
New York, N.Y. 10016
Office Tel: (212) 263-0719
Lab Tel: (212) 263-3718
Fax: (212) 263-5711
Admin Contact
Alberta Chan
Tel: (646) 501-4509

Lymphocyte Trafficking, Inflammation, Sphingosine-1-phosphate

An effective immune response requires recruitment of the right cells to the right place at the right time. Our lab studies how immune cell trafficking is regulated. We are particularly interested in three questions: (1) What determines whether a lymphocyte stays in a given location – surveying for pathogens, becoming activated, or fighting infection and promoting inflammation – or moves on? (2) How are the gradients that direct immune cell migration established? (3) How do the trafficking requirements of normal and leukemic T cells differ, and can these differences be targeted therapeutically?

Much of our work on the first two questions has focused on the signaling lipid sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), which guides lymphocytes out of lymphoid organs, where they are initially activated, into circulation, where they can travel to the site of infection. Drugs targeting S1P signaling and S1P metabolism are in clinical trials as immune suppressants. By blocking exit from lymphoid organs, these drugs prevent activated T cells from reaching transplanted organs or organs that are subject to autoimmune attack. These drugs may also have direct anti-inflammatory effects. Despite S1P’s vital functions, little is understood about how its distribution is controlled, a challenging question which is essential to developing more targeted therapies and more generally to understanding the biology of signaling lipids. Our lab is developing tools to map S1P in homeostasis and disease, exploring what regulates S1P concentrations in tissues, and testing how S1P shapes inflammation. Much of our work on the last question is in a model of T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia; we are addressing how these cells, which resemble early T cell progenitors, metastasize to the brain.

Selected Publications: 
  • Ramos-Perez, W.D., V. Fang, D. Escalante-Alcalde, M. Cammer, S.R. Schwab. A map of the distribution of sphingosine 1-phosphate in the spleen.  Nature Immunology, Vol. 16, 1245-52, 2015.  PMID: 26502404
  • Pitt, L. A., A.N. Tikhonova, H. Hu, T. Trimarchi, B. King, Y. Gong, M. Sanchez-Martin, A. Tsirigos, D.R. Littman, A. Ferrando, S.J. Morrison, D.R. Fooksman*, I. Aifantis*, S.R. Schwab*. CXCL12-producing vascular endothelial niches control acute T cell leukemia maintenance, Cancer Cell, Vol. 27, 755-768, 2015.  PMID: 26058075
  • Baeyens, A., V. Fang, C. Chen, S.R. Schwab.  Exit Strategies: S1P Signaling and T Cell Migration.  Trends in Immunology, 2015.  PMID: 26596799
  • Mendoza, A., B. Breart, W.D. Ramos-Perez, L.A. Pitt, M. Gobert, M. Sunkara, J.J. Lafaille, A.J. Morris, and S.R. Schwab. The transporter Spns2 is required for secretion of lymph but not plasma sphingosine-1-phosphate. Cell Reports,  2012. PMID: 23103166
  • Breart, B., W.D. Ramos-Perez, A. Mendoza, A.K. Salous, M. Gobert, Y. Huang, R.H. Adams, J.J. Lafaille, D. Escalante-Alcalde, A.J. Morris, S.R. Schwab. Lipid phosphate phosphatase 3 enables efficient thymic egress. Journal of Experimental Medicine, Vol. 208, 1267-78, 2011. PMID: 21576386

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