Dr. Witwer investigates extracellular vesicles and RNA in human disease, including HIV infection and inflammatory disease. Ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules are found not only inside, but also outside of human cells in biological fluids such as blood plasma, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid. Although quite labile, these molecules are protected from degradation by molecular shuttles including extracellular vesicles (EV). Rapidly expanding research programs over the last several years indicate that EVs and their nucleic acid cargo may provide early warning of disease, contribute to the defense against disease, and serve as models for effective therapies. Dr. Witwer is also interested in extracellular RNA as a potential therapeutic approach.
- "Extracellular Vesicle-Mediated Immunomodulation in HIV Infection and Nicotine Abuse"
- "Development of miRNA-based therapies to silence or purge the latent macrophage reservoir in HAND"
- "Biomarkers of the HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders: plasma and CSF miRNAs in prediction, diagnosis and pathogenesis of HAND" (in collaboration with Dr. Janice Clements)
- "Circulating cellular and extracellular noncoding RNAs in HIV-1 Elite Suppression" (in collaboration with Dr. Joel Blankson).
Rotation projects are available to Cellular and Molecular Medicine students. Local undergraduates with laboratory experience and a strong interest in HIV, RNA, or extracellular vesicle research are encouraged to inquire about available projects. Undergraduates in the Witwer lab have co-authored numerous publications and have earned:
- Four young investigator awards from professional meetings;
- One Dean's Undergraduate Research Award (DURA);
- Five Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards (PURA);
- Four Center for AIDS Research Baltimore HIV Scholars; and
- A Second Decade Society scholarship.
Lab Website: Ken Witwer Laboratory
Technology Expertise Keywords
miRNA, genome editing, ultracentrifugation, microarray, RNA-seq, in situ hybridization, molecular biology, immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry
View all on Pubmed
EV-TRACK Consortium, Van Deun J, Mestdagh P, et al. EV-TRACK: transparent reporting and centralizing knowledge in extracellular vesicle research. Nature Methods 2017.
Han PA, Kim HS, Cho S, Fazeli R, Najafian A, Khawaja H, McAlexander M, Dy B, Sorensen M, Aronova A, Sebo TJ, Giordano TJ, Fahey TJ 3rd, Thompson GB, Gauger PG, Somervell H, Bishop JA, Eshleman JR, Schneider EB, Witwer KW, Umbricht CB, Zeiger MA. Association of BRAF V600E Mutation and MicroRNA Expression with Central Lymph Node Metastases in Papillary Thyroid Cancer: A Prospective Study from Four Endocrine Surgery Centers. Thyroid 2016.
Kim V, Mears B, Powell BH, Witwer KW. Mutant Cas9-transcriptional activator activates HIV-1 in the presence and absence of LTR-specific guide RNAs. Science Matters 2017.
Eitan E, Hutchison ER, Marosi K, Comotto J, Mustapic M, Nigam S, Suire C, Maharana C, Machairaki V, Witwer KW, Kapogiannis D, Koliatsos VE, Mattson MP. Extracellular Vesicle-Associated Aβ Mediates Trans-Neuronal Bioenergetic and Ca2+-Handling Deficits in Alzheimer's Disease Models. Nature Partner Journal Aging and Mechanisms of Disease 2016.
Buchanan EL, Espinoza DA, McAlexander MA, Myers SL, Moyer A, Witwer KW. SAMHD1 transcript upregulation during SIV infection of the central nervous system does not associate with reduced viral load. Scientific Reports 2016.