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Departmental Affiliations

School of Medicine

Michael Matunis, PhD, studies how protein modification by SUMO—the small ubiquitin-related modifier—drives changes in key cellular pathways from stress response to DNA repair.

Contact Info

615 N. Wolfe Street, Room W8118

Research Interests

Biochemistry and molecular biology; cell biology; SUMO; nuclear pore complexes; mitosis; malaria; ubiquitin; DNA repair

Experiences & Accomplishments
Northwestern University

Research in our laboratory focuses on the functions of the SUMO family of small ubiquitin-related proteins. The covalent conjugation of SUMOs to other cellular proteins regulates a wide range of essential processes that include the replication and repair of DNA, the control of transcription initiation, trafficking of proteins and RNA between the nucleus and the cytoplasm and progression of cells through mitosis. Because all of these processes are essential for normal cell growth and differentiation, defects in sumoylation are associated with a variety of human diseases, including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes. We study basic mechanisms regulating sumoylation and its effects on proteins and downstream cell functions relevant to all of these diseases. Current projects in the lab are focused on understanding the unique biological functions of different SUMO paralogs.  Specific projects include understanding the role of SUMO1 on cytosolic protein quality control, and the roles of SUMO2 on mitochondrial function and histone mRNA processing and protein biogenesis. 

Honors & Awards
  • 1982 Bausch + Lomb Honorary Science Award
  • 1985 PSU Department of Biochemistry Gilman Science Award
  • 1988  Amoco Foundation Pre-doctoral Research Fellowship
  • 1994 American Cancer Society Amgen Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 1999 JHSPH Faculty Innovation Award
  • 2003 American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award
  • 2004 March of Dimes Research Award 2005 CFAR Pilot Award
  • 2010 JHMRI Pilot Award  
  • 2015 Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 2016 JHU Discovery Award
  • 2016 Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center Developmental Research Award
  • 2023 Elected Fellow of the American Society for Cell Biology
Select Publications

Recent Publications

  • Wang, W., J. Lu, W.-C. Yang, E.D. Spear, S. Michaelis and M.J. Matunis.  2022.  Analysis of a degron-containing reporter protein GFP-CL1 reveals a role for SUMO1 in cytosolic protein quality control.  J. Biol. Chem.  DOI: 10.1016/j.jbc.2022.102851

  • Ellis, N., J. Zhu, M.K. Yagle, W.-C. Yang, J. Huang, A. Kwako, M.M. Seidman and M.J. Matunis.  2021.  RNF4 regulates the BLM helicase in recovery from replication fork collapse.  Front. Genet.  12(2257).

  • Bouchard, D., W. Wang, W.-C. Yang, S. He, A. Garcia and M.J. Matunis.  2021. SUMO paralogue-specific functions revealed through systematic analysis of human knockout cell lines and gene expression data.  Mol. Biol. Cell. 32:1849-1866.

  • Bouchard, D.M. and M.J. Matunis.  2019.  A cellular and bioinformatics analysis of the SENP1 SUMO isopeptidase in pancreatic cancer.  J. Gastrointest. Oncol.  10: 821-830.

  • Odeh, H.M., E. Coyaud, B. Raught and M.J. Matunis.  2018.  The SUMO-specific isopeptidase SENP2 is targeted to intracellular membranes via a predicted N-terminal amphipathic a-helix.  Mol. Biol. Cell.  29:1878-1890.

  • Lee, C.C., B. Li, H. Yu and M.J. Matunis.  2018.  Sumoylation promotes optimal APC/C activation and timely anaphase.  Elife.  7.pli:e29539.