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Faculty Detail    
Campus Address BBRB 258B Zip 2170
Phone  205-934-3470
Other websites Publications

Faculty Appointment(s)
Appointment Type Department Division Rank
Primary  Microbiology  Microbiology Professor Emeritus
Center  Comp Arthritis, MSK, Bone & Autoimmunity Ctr  Comp Arthritis, MSK, Bone & Autoimmunity Ctr Professor Emeritus
Center  Comprehensive Cancer Center  Comprehensive Cancer Center Professor Emeritus
Center  General Clinical Research Center  Nephrology Research & Training Center Professor Emeritus

Graduate Biomedical Sciences Affiliations
Cellular and Molecular Biology Program 
Medical Scientist Training Program 

Biographical Sketch 
Suzanne M. Michalek is Professor of the Department of Microbiology. Following her initial training in genetics (B.S., 1967; M.S., 1968), she initiated studies in immunology at the University of Chicago with emphasis on the mucosal immune system. Her studies at UAB (Ph.D., 1976) on the induction of salivary IgA antibody responses protective against Streptococcus mutans-induced dental caries provided evidence for the existence of a common mucosal immune system and for the development of a human oral vaccine against dental caries. Following postdoctoral studies at NIH on the effects of bacterial LPS on the host's immune system, she joined the Mucosal Immunology Group at UAB (1979).

Society Memberships
Organization Name Position Held Org Link
American Academy of Microbiology      
American Society for Microbiology      
International and American Association for Dental Research      
Society for Leukocyte Biology      
Society for Mucosal Immunology      
The American Association of Immunologists      
The International Endotoxin Society      

Research/Clinical Interest
Immunological mechanisms involved in host/microbial interactions, and development of mucosal vaccines against infectious agents
My research program centers around two major themes: 1) understanding immunological mechanisms involved in host/microbial interactions, with emphasis on host responses to the pathogens Porphyromonas gingivalis and Francisella tularensis, and 2) the development of mucosal vaccines against infectious diseases. P. gingivalis is involved in the development of periodontal disease, an inflammatory process that has also been linked to systemic disorders such as cardiovascular disease. Our studies with P. gingivalis focus on the cell signaling molecules and transcription factors involved in the host response this pathogen. F. tularensis is the cause of tularemia. Due to its ability to infect via multiple routes, its ease of dissemination, and its high infectivity, morbidity and rate of mortality, F. tularensis is considered a bioterrorism agent. The nature of the inflammatory response induced by Francisella infection is a critical determining factor of the outcome of the infectious process. Our studies are directed to delineate the signaling pathways and potential target molecules that could be implicated in the inflammatory process. Through a better understanding of the cellular mechanisms involved in the host immune response to these pathogens, we hope to identify target molecules for the development of protective immunotherapeutic approaches. Since greater than 95% of all infectious disease involve the colonization or penetration of our mucosal surfaces, our mucosal immune system serves as our first line of defense against pathogens. Therefore, we have devoted considerable effort to understanding the mucosal immune system and in developing mucosal vaccines against microbial pathogens. Current in vivo studies in adults and children are testing the effectiveness of our mucosal vaccine consisting of recombinant microbial polypeptides from Streptococcus mutans (the principle etiologic agent of tooth decay) in inducing mucosal as well as systemic immune responses that protect against dental caries. We have also developed a mucosal vaccine that confers greater than 80% protection against respiratory infection by the biologic threat agent F. tularenesis. These studies are being done in a murine model. Ongoing studies are designed to test the effectiveness of our vaccine in protecting against highly virulent forms of this pathogen and in additional model systems. We also plan on determining the effectiveness of our vaccine in the elderly, since it is well know that age does affect our immune system, making us more susceptible to diseases. It is possible that our vaccine may need to be modified by including additional antigens/adjuvants to make it even more effective in inducing protective responses in the population at large. Our studies should help in the development of means to treat/prevent infectious diseases via therapeutic approaches and/or mucosal vaccines. Since microbial pathogens, e.g., P. gingivalis, can alter the outcome of systemic diseases, such as kidney disease, cancer or depression, we are also investigating the cellular mechanisms involved in these processes in an effort to define therapeutic approaches that would help in the treatment of systemic diseases/disorders.

Selected Publications 
Publication PUBMEDID
Yang, D., Chen, Q., Su, S.B., Zhang, P., Kurosaka, K., Caspi, R.R., Michalek, S.M., Rosenberg, H.F., Zhang, N., and Oppenheim, J.J. 2008. Eosinophil-derived neurotoxin acts as an alarmin to activate the TLR2-MyD88 signal pathway in dendritic cells and enhances Th2 immune responses. J. Exp. Med. 205: 79-90.   
Seo, H., Michalek, S.M., and Nahm, M.H. 2008. Lipoteichoic acid is important in innate immune responses to gram-positive bacteria. Infect. Immun. 76: 206-213.   
Cole, L.E., Shirey, K.A., Barry, E., Santiago, A., Rallabhandi, P., Elkins, K.L., Puche, A., Michalek, S.M., and Vogel, S.N. 2007. TLR2-mediated signaling requirements for Francisella tularensis LVS infection of murine macrophages. Infect. Immun. 75: 4127-4137.   
Zhang, P., Lewis, J.P., Michalek, S.M., and Katz, J. 2007. Role of CD80 and CD86 in host immune responses to the recombinant hemagglutinin domain of Porphyromonas gingivalis gingipain and in the adjuvanticity of cholera toxin B and monophosphoryl lipid A. Vaccine 25: 6201-6210.   
Banas, J.A., Miller, J.D., Fuschino, M.E., Hazlett, K.R.O., Toyofuku, W., Porter, K.A., Reutzel, S.B., Florczyk, M.A., Mc Donough, K.A., and Michalek, S.M. 2007. Evidence that accumulation of mutants in a biofilm reflects natural selection rather than stress-induced adaptive mutation. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 73: 357-361.   
Childers, N.K., Li, F., Dasanayake, A.P., Li, Y., Kirk, K., Michalek, S.M. 2006. Immune response in humans to a nasal boost with Streptococcus mutans antigens. Oral Microbiol. Immunol. 21:309-313.   
Salam, M.A., Katz, J., Zhang, P., Hajishengallis, G., and Michalek, S.M. 2006. Immunogenicity of Salmonella vector vaccines expressing SBR of Streptococcus mutans under the control of a T7-nirB (dual) promoter system. Vaccine 24:5003-15.   
Cole, L.E., Elkins, K.L., Michalek, S.M., Qureshi, N., Eaton, L.J., Rallabhandi, P., Cuesta, N., and Vogel, S.N. 2006. Immunologic consequences of Francisella tularensis live vaccine strain infection: role of the innate immune response in infection and immunity. J. Immunol. 176:6888-6899.   
Katz, J., Zhang, P., Martin, M., Vogel, S.N., and Michalek, S.M. 2006. Toll-like receptor 2 is required for inflammatory responses to Francisella tularensis LVS. Infect. Immun. 74:2809-2816.   
Han, S.H., Kim, J.H., Martin, M., Chung, G-H., Michalek, S.M., and Nahm, M.H. 2005. Lipoteichoic acid-induced nitric oxide production depends on the activation of PAF receptor and Jak2. J. Immunol.176:573-579.   
Zhang, P., Yang, Q-B., Balkovetz, D., Lewis, J.P., Clements, J.D., Michalek, S.M., and Katz, J. 2005. Effectiveness of the B subunit of cholera toxin in potentiating immune responses to the recominant hemagglutinin/adhesin domain of the gingipain Kgp from Porphyromonas gingivalis. Vaccine 23:4734-4744.   
Pino, O., Martin, M., and Michalek, S.M. 2005. Cellular mechanisms of the adjuvant activity of the flagellin component FljB of Salmonella typhimurium to potentiate mucosal and systemic responses. Infect. Immun. 73:6763-6770.   
Martin, M., Rehani, K., Jope, R.S., Michalek, S.M. 2005. Toll-like receptor-mediated cytokine production is differentially regulated by glycogen synthase kinase. Nature Immunol. 6:777-784.   
Zhang, P., Martin, M., Michalek, S.M, and Katz, J. 2005. Role of mitogen-activated protein kinases and NF-ƒÛB in the regulation of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines by Porphyromonas gingivalis hemagglutinin B. Infect. Immun. 73:3990-3998.   
Menendez, A., Li, F., Michalek, S.M., Kirk, K., Makhija, S.K., Childers, N.K., 2004. Comparative analysis of the antibacterial effects of combined mouthrinses on Streptococcus mutans. Oral Microbiol. Immunol. 20:31-34.   
Garcia, C.A., Martin, M., and Michalek, S.M. 2004. Role of B7 costimulatory molecules in mediating systemic and mucosal antibody responses to an attenuated Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and its cloned antigen. Infect. Immun. 72:5824-5831.   
Russell, M.W., Childers, N.K., Michalek, S.M., Smith, D.J., Taubman, M.A.. 2004. A caries vaccine? The state of the science of immunization against dental caries. Caries Res. 38:230-235.    
Zhang, P., Martin, M., Yang, Q-B., Michalek, S.M., and Katz, J. 2004. Role of B7 costimulatory molecules in immune responses and T-helper cell differentiation to recombinant HagB from Prophyromonas gingivalis. Infect. Immun. 72:637-644.   
Han, S.H., Kim, J.H., Martin, M., Michalek, S.M., and Nahm, M.H. 2003. Pneumococcal lipoteichoic acid (LTA) is not as potent as staphylococcal LTA in stimulating Toll-like receptor 2. Infect. Immun. 71:5541-5548.   
Zhang, P., Yang, Q-B., Marciani, D.J., Martin, M., Clements, J.D., Michalek, S.M., and Katz, J. 2003. Effectiveness of the quillaja saponin semi-synthetic analog GPI-0100 in potentiating mucosal and systemic responses to recombinant HagB from Porphyromonas gingivalis. Vaccine 21:4459-4471.   
Martin, M., Schifferle, R.E., Cuesta, N., Vogel, S.N., Katz, J., and Michalek, S.M. 2003. Role of the P13 kinases-Akt pathway in the regulation of IL-10 and IL-12 by Porphyromonas gingivalis lipopolysaccharide. J. Immunol. 171:717-725.   

mucosal vaccines, inflammation, TLRs, T cell, cytokines, signaling pathways