PEOPLE

Sara Cherry, PhD

Professor of Microbiology in Biochemistry and Biophysics
Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Contact InformationUniversity of Pennsylvania
Department of Microbiology
472A Stemmler Hall
3450 Hamilton Walk
Philadelphia, PA, 19104
Office: 215-746-2384

Email: cherrys@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Specialty Division

Immunobiology and Experimental Pathology

Research Expertise

Research Interests
Genetic and mechanistic studies of viral-host interactions.

Key words: virus, genomics, RNAi, genetics, Drosophila, innate, immunity.

Description of Research
Research in the Cherry lab is aimed at identifying cellular factors that regulate viral pathogenesis, including factors hijacked by viruses for replication and innate anti-viral mechanisms used by the host to combat the invader. We study a number of arthropod-borne RNA viruses, including flaviviruses such as West Nile virus, dengue virus and the newly emerging Zika virus. We are also studying the alphaviruses including Sindbis and Chikungunya virus as well as the bunyaviruses Rift Valley Fever virus and La Crosse virus. These are the three major families of viruses that are important human pathogens transmitted by mosquitoes to humans.
To identify cellular factors that play important roles in infection we are taking a genetic approach and screening for factors that impact viral replication. We model the vector biology using the genetically tractable model organism Drosophila. This allows us to use a wide-variety of techniques including both high-throughput RNA interference screens in cell culture, and forward genetic screens in animals to identify genes that impact the viral life cycle. We also use human cell culture models to study the infection of mammals performing cell-based screens and mechanistic studies. Combining forward genetics and functional genomics comparing and contrasting between viruses and hosts allows us to use these unbiased and global methodologies to identify many important and novel host factors that modulate virus-host interactions. Through these studies we have discovered a large number of new factors and pathways involved from new pattern recognition receptors and nucleic acid sensing to previously unknown factors required for viral entry. In addition, our recent studies have uncovered new facets of intestinal immunity demonstrating a role for the microbiota in antiviral defense.


Rotation Projects:
Interested students can perform a wide array of cell-based screens in either insect or human cells using emerging arboviruses including chikungunya and zika virus. In addition, in Drosophila, we have projects on intestinal infection where we are dissecting the role of the microbiota in protection from enteric arboviral infections. We have projects understanding how dysbiosis impacts susceptibility and to discover the bacterial products that impact infection. Furthermore, we have projects in human cells to dissect the mechanisms involved in viral RNA recognition and RNA decay as well as to study the mechanisms by which nutrient signaling and autophagy impact viral infection. Depending on the interests of the student, there are many additional possible projects in the areas of viral-host interactions and innate immunity. Students are encouraged to contact Dr. Cherry directly.

Lab personnel:
Megha Basavappa- CAMB Ph.D. Student
Trevor Griesman- CAMB Ph.D. Student
Elisha Segrist- CAMB Ph.D. Student
Frances Taschuk- CAMB Ph.D. Student
Yuan Li- Postdoctoral Fellow
Minghua Li- Postdoctoral Fellow
Billy Palmer- Postdoctoral Fellow
Holly Ramage- Research Assistant Professor
Beth Gold- Research Technician
Mark Dittmar- Research Technician
Jennifer Hofmann- Research Technician
Chitra Naidu- Research Technician
Billy Truong- Research Technician
Emily Hancin- Undergraduate Researcher
Derek Nuamah- Undergraduate Researcher
Nathan Pittenger- Undergraduate Researcher


Itmat Expertise

Research in the Cherry lab is aimed at identifying cellular factors that regulate viral pathogenesis, including factors hijacked by viruses for replication and innate anti-viral mechanisms used by the host to combat the invader. We study a number of arthropod-borne RNA viruses, including flaviviruses such as West Nile virus, dengue virus and the newly emerging Zika virus. We are also studying the alphaviruses including Sindbis and Chikungunya virus as well as the bunyaviruses Rift Valley Fever virus and La Crosse virus. These are the three major families of viruses that are important human pathogens transmitted by mosquitoes to humans.
To identify cellular factors that play important roles in infection we are taking a genetic approach and screening for factors that impact viral replication. We model the vector biology using the genetically tractable model organism Drosophila. This allows us to use a wide-variety of techniques including both high-throughput RNA interference screens in cell culture, and forward genetic screens in animals to identify genes that impact the viral life cycle. We also use human cell culture models to study the infection of mammals performing cell-based screens and mechanistic studies. Combining forward genetics and functional genomics comparing and contrasting between viruses and hosts allows us to use these unbiased and global methodologies to identify many important and novel host factors that modulate virus-host interactions. Through these studies we have discovered a large number of new factors and pathways involved from new pattern recognition receptors and nucleic acid sensing to previously unknown factors required for viral entry. In addition, our recent studies have uncovered new facets of intestinal immunity demonstrating a role for the microbiota in antiviral defense.

Graduate Groups

Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Cell and Molecular Biology
Genomics and Computational Biology
Immunology
Pharmacology

Education

B.S. (Chemistry), U.C. Berkeley, 1994
Ph.D. (Biology), MIT, 2000

Specialty Certification

Postgraduate Training

Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School, Department of Genetics, 2000-2005

Awards and Honors

NIH Training Grant Appointment, 1994
NIH-NIAID NRSA Fellowship, 2000
MARCE Career Development Grant, 2007
Faculty of 1000 Medicine, Biodefense section, 2008
BWF Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases, 2011
Montague Award, 2013
Penn Fellow, 2014
John Morgan Society, 2017
Board Member, Society for Functional Precision Medicine, 2018-present
American Academy of Microbiology Fellow, 2018
Stanley Cohen Award, 2019

Memberships and Professional Organizations

Genetics Society of America, 2002 - Present
American Society of Virology, 2005 - Present
NIH Study Section, NIH/NIAID (AITRC) Ad hoc for K22, 2007 - 2007
NIH Roadmap CPSF Workshop, 2008 - 2008
American Society of Virology Workshop Convener, 2008 - 2008
American Association of Immunology, 2009 - Present
American Society of Virology Program Planning Committee- Abstract Selection, 2009 - 2013
NSF Study Section, Ad hoc, 2010 - 2010
NIH Study Section, NHGRI ZHG1HGR-M, 2011 - 2011
DOD DTRA Study Section, 2011 - 2011
NIH Study Section, NIAID ZAI1 RRS, 2012 - 2012
NIH Study Section, NIGMS ZRG1 CB-R, Ad hoc, 2012 - 2012
Abstract Selection, Convenor for Keystone Meeting, 2013 - 2014
ASM member, 2013 - present
Larry Sandler Award Committee, 2013 - 2013
NIH Study Section, NIAID VIRB, Ad hoc, 2013 - Present
NSF Study Section, Ad hoc, 2013 - 2013
European Research Council Grant Review, "Ideas", 2013 - 2013
AAAS member, 2013 - present
Welcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship, ad hoc., 2014 - 2014
Drosophila Research Conference Session Chair, San Diego, CA., 2014 - 2014
American Society of Virology Workshop Convener, 2014 - 2014
NIH Study Section, NIAID VIRB, standing member, 2014 - present
NIH Study Section, NIAID VIRB, ad hoc, 2014 - Present
PI NIAID T32 Emerging Infectious Diseases, 2015 - present
NSF Study Section, Ad hoc, 2015 - 2015
Keynote, Pathways Discovery Symposia, Rochester, NY, 2016 - 2016
Member, Abramson Cancer Center, 2017 - present
Keystone Symposia Inaugural Organizer: Intrinsic Defenses and Counterdefenses, 2018 - 2018
Viruses International Conference, Organizer, 2018 - 2018
American Association of Immunology Conference, 2019 - Present
Center for Vaccines Research, University of Pittsburgh, 2019 - Present
NCATS Ad Hoc Scientific Review, 2020 - Present
Preclinical Therapeutic In Vitro Expert Panel for Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV), 2020 - Present
Executive Advisory Committee for the Drosophila Research & Screening Center, 2020 - Present

Web Links


Selected Publications

Microbiota-dependent priming of antiviral intestinal immunity in Drosophila

Sansone, C., Cohen, J., Yasunaga, A., Xu, J., Osborn, G., Subramanian, H., Gold, B., Buchon, N. and Cherry, S., Cell Host Microbe 18(5): 571-81, 2015

A Genomic Screen Identifies the Orphan Nuclear Receptor TLX as an Enhancer of STAT1-mediated Transcription and Immunity to Toxoplasma gondii

Beiting, D.P., Hidano, S. Fang, Q. Baggs, J.E., Geskes, J.M., Wherry, J.E., Hunter, C.A., Roos, D.S., and Cherry, S., PLOS Biology 13(7): e1002200, 2015

Virus-induced translational arrest through 4EBP1/2-dependent decay of 5'TOP mRNAs restricts viral infection

Hopkins, K.C., Tartell, M.A., Herrmann, C., Hackett, B.A., Taschuk, F., Panda, D., Menghani, S., Sabin, L.R., Cherry, S., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 112(22): E2920-9, 2015

RNASEK is required for internalization of diverse acid-dependent viruses

Hackett, B.A., Yasunaga, A., Panda, D., Tartell, M., Hopkins, K., Hensley, S.E., and Cherry S, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 112(25): 7797-802, 2015, PMID:201424098

Read article

Stem loop recognition by DDX17 facilitates miRNA processing and antiviral defense

Moy, R.H, Cole, B.S., Yasunaga, A., Gold, B., Shankarling, G., Varble, A. Molleston, J., tenOever, B.R., Lynch, K.W. and Cherry S., Cell 178(4): 764-77, 2014

Nup98 promotes antiviral gene expression to restrict RNA virus infection in Drosophila

Panda, D., Pascual-Garcia, P., Dunagin, D., Tudor, M., Hopkins, K.C., Xu, J., Gold, B., Raj, A., Capelson, M. and Cherry, S., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111(37): E3890-9, 2014

Search PubMed for articles