Caitlin Liu


Caitlin Liu
BS, Biochemistry
University of Maine - Orono
Orono ME
PhD Student in Immunology - MERGE-ID
Alexander Poltorak, PhD, Adviser




The innate immune system uses sensors of cytosolic DNA to detect many viruses and intracellular bacteria. Foreign nucleotides in the cytosol typically induce a robust type I interferon response, which includes the production of interferon-β (IFNβ), a major antiviral cytokine. Our lab uses forward genetics to dissect the differential immune responses mounted by classical laboratory mouse strains (C57Bl/6) and wild-derived mouse strains (MOLF) toward intracellular pathogens. Specifically, we have shown that in response to intracellular DNA and bacterial second messenger cyclic-di-nucleotides, MOLF macrophages display diminishing amounts of type I IFN, while producing copious amounts of IL-6. This finding is in complete contrast with C57Bl/6 macrophage responses. We have used forward genetics to identify STING as the candidate gene responsible for this discrepancy. For my thesis project, I seek to better define the innate signaling pathways and interaction partners of STING responsible for the MOLF phenotype.

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December 1: Basic Science Division PhD Programs

February 15: Building Diversity in Biomedical Sciences

March 31: Post-Baccalaureate Research Program

May 1: Clinical & Translational Science, MS in Pharmacology & Drug Development

June 15: Online Certificate in Fundamentals of Clinical Care Research