Research Summary

I have a longstanding interest in biological sulfation and its roles in immunology and cancer. The origin of this interest began 40 years ago with our investigation of molecular mechanisms involved in lymphocyte homing to lymph nodes. Our early experiments established that lymphocyte attachment to high endothelial venules (HEVs) in lymph nodes involves a calcium-dependent lectin-like receptor on lymphocytes and carbohydrate-based ligands displayed on HEVs. With Genentech, we cloned the receptor, now known as L-selectin and found a C-type lectin domain, thus confirming its lectin nature. This work inaugurated the elucidation of the selectin family, which is comprised of E- and P-selectin, as well as L-selectin. We went on to define the HEV-ligands for L-selectin and showed that they are mucin-like glycoproteins that express O-glycans with 6-sulfo sialyl Lewis x as the key recognition determinant. We also identified the critical HEV-associated sulfotransferases that elaborate the essential sulfation modifications of the ligands. HEVs with the same biochemical phenotype as in lymph nodes are also found in tertiary lymphoid organs (TLOs) that are associated with tumors. The presence of HEVs in tumor-associated TLOs is correlated with good outcomes for patients with breast cancer and melanoma, probably reflecting immune-protection by the TLOs that are in proximity to the tumors and highlighting the importance of our elucidation of fundamental mechanisms of lymphocyte-HEV interactions.

Our study of the sulfatases known as the SULFs (SULF1 and SULF2) represent an extension of my interest in the regulation of sulfation at the cell surface. We originally cloned the human and mouse versions of these enzymes. We demonstrated that these enzymes are secreted and act as neutral pH glucosamine 6-O-endosulfatases for the GAG chains of heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs). By removing 6OS groups from glucosamines in GAG chains, the SULF are able to mobilize growth factors/chemokines/morphogens from HS sequestration and modulate multiple signaling pathways in the cells, including canonical Wnt, TGF-beta, and PDGF signaling. The two SULFs are over-expressed in multiple cancers at the mRNA and protein levels. For several of these cancers, SULF2 levels are associated with poor clinical outcomes. Our studies were the first to implicate SULF2 as an oncogenic driver in pancreatic cancer, NSCLC and glioma (with Joanna Phillips and Zena Werb). Subsequent studies have shown pro-oncogenic roles for SULF2 in hepatocellular carcinoma, neuroblastoma, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and colorectal cancer. We have developed function-blocking mAbs against human/mouse SULF2, which will allow further in vitro and in vivo investigation of the oncogenic activities of this enzyme.

Since SULF2 is secreted and is overexpressed in multiple cancers, this protein may have utility as a diagnostic or prognostic biomarker. We have developed a sensitive capture ELISA for SULF2 and have detected the enzyme in human blood and body fluids. Preliminary evidence obtained with the ELISA indicates overexpression of SULF2 in mouth-wash samples of patients with head & neck squamous cell carcinoma. Ongoing collaborations are aimed at determining the biomarker utility of SULF2 in several cancers.

Research Funding

  • March 1, 1982 - May 31, 2015 - Bio-Organic Biomedical Mass Spectrometry Resource , Co-Investigator . Sponsor: NIH, Sponsor Award ID: P41RR001614
  • September 30, 2002 - August 31, 2014 - Mucosal Immune Barrier in Infection and Immunity , Co-Investigator . Sponsor: NIH, Sponsor Award ID: P01AI053194
  • January 1, 1999 - August 31, 2012 - Sulfotransferases in the Synthesis of L-Selectin Ligands , Principal Investigator . Sponsor: NIH, Sponsor Award ID: R01GM057411
  • February 1, 1977 - July 31, 2012 - Cell Surface Lectins and Intercellular Adhesion , Principal Investigator . Sponsor: NIH, Sponsor Award ID: R01GM023547


University of California, Berkeley, CA, B.A., 1966, Physics
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, Ph.D., 1972, Neurobiology
University of California, San Diego, CA, Postdoc, 1972-76, Cell Biology

Honors & Awards

  • 1962
    University of California Regents Scholar
  • 1966
    Phi Beta Kappa
  • 1966
    Phi Kappa Phi
  • 1966- 1968
    American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 1977-1982
    NIH Career Development Award
  • 1993
    Feulgen Lecture
  • 1994
    Keynote address to Keystone Symposium on Complex Carbohydrates in Biology & Medicine
  • 1996-2006
    NIH Merit Award
  • 2005
    Keynote Speaker at Keynote Conference on Leukocyte Trafficking
  • 2006
    Ernest Witebsky Memorial Lecture, SUNY, Buffalo, NY
  • 2007
    Elected AAAS Fellow
  • 2010
    Karl Meyer Award from Society for Glycobiology

Selected Publications

  1. Dona AA, Sanchez JF, Palmer JM, Synold TW, Chiuppesi F, Thomas S, Caserta E, Singer M, Tandoh T, Chowdhury A, Krishnan A, Rosenzweig M, Diamond DJ, Rosen S, Pichiorri F, Dadwal S. Leflunomide Confers Rapid Recovery from COVID-19 and is Coupled with Temporal Immunologic Changes. J Immunol Sci. 2023; 7(1):9-27.  View on PubMed
  2. Mei MG, Lee HJ, Palmer JM, Chen R, Tsai NC, Chen L, McBride K, Smith DL, Melgar I, Song JY, Bonjoc KJ, Armenian S, Nwangwu M, Lee PP, Zain J, Nikolaenko L, Popplewell L, Nademanee A, Chaudhry A, Rosen S, Kwak L, Forman SJ, Herrera AF. Response-adapted anti-PD-1-based salvage therapy for Hodgkin lymphoma with nivolumab alone or in combination with ICE. Blood. 2022 06 23; 139(25):3605-3616.  View on PubMed
  3. Luo X, Campbell NA, He L, O'Brien DR, Singer MS, Lemjabbar-Alaoui H, Ahn KS, Smoot R, Torbenson MS, Rosen SD, Roberts LR. Sulfatase 2 (SULF2) Monoclonal Antibody 5D5 Suppresses Human Cholangiocarcinoma Xenograft Growth Through Regulation of a SULF2-Platelet-Derived Growth Factor Receptor Beta-Yes-Associated Protein Signaling Axis. Hepatology. 2021 09; 74(3):1411-1428.  View on PubMed
  4. Lewinsky H, Gunes EG, David K, Radomir L, Kramer MP, Pellegrino B, Perpinial M, Chen J, He TF, Mansour AG, Teng KY, Bhattacharya S, Caserta E, Troadec E, Lee P, Feng M, Keats J, Krishnan A, Rosenzweig M, Yu J, Caligiuri MA, Cohen Y, Shevetz O, Becker-Herman S, Pichiorri F, Rosen S, Shachar I. CD84 is a regulator of the immunosuppressive microenvironment in multiple myeloma. JCI Insight. 2021 02 22; 6(4).  View on PubMed
  5. McCreedy DA, Lee S, Sontag CJ, Weinstein P, Olivas AD, Martinez AF, Fandel TM, Trivedi A, Lowell CA, Rosen SD, Noble-Haeusslein LJ. Early Targeting of L-Selectin on Leukocytes Promotes Recovery after Spinal Cord Injury, Implicating Novel Mechanisms of Pathogenesis. eNeuro. 2018 Jul-Aug; 5(4).  View on PubMed
  6. Flowers SA, Zhou X, Wu J, Wang Y, Makambi K, Kallakury BV, Singer MS, Rosen SD, Davidson B, Goldman R. Expression of the extracellular sulfatase SULF2 is associated with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Oncotarget. 2016 Jul 12; 7(28):43177-43187.  View on PubMed
  7. Singer MS, Phillips JJ, Lemjabbar-Alaoui H, Wang YQ, Wu J, Goldman R, Rosen SD. SULF2, a heparan sulfate endosulfatase, is present in the blood of healthy individuals and increases in cirrhosis. Clin Chim Acta. 2015 Feb 02; 440:72-8.  View on PubMed
  8. Rosen SD, Daneman R. High endothelial venules through a transcriptomics lens. Nat Immunol. 2014 Oct; 15(10):906-8.  View on PubMed
  9. Patnode ML, Bando JK, Krummel MF, Locksley RM, Rosen SD. Leukotriene B4 amplifies eosinophil accumulation in response to nematodes. J Exp Med. 2014 Jun 30; 211(7):1281-8.  View on PubMed
  10. Maltseva I, Chan M, Kalus I, Dierks T, Rosen SD. The SULFs, extracellular sulfatases for heparan sulfate, promote the migration of corneal epithelial cells during wound repair. PLoS One. 2013; 8(8):e69642.  View on PubMed
  11. Patnode ML, Cheng CW, Chou CC, Singer MS, Elin MS, Uchimura K, Crocker PR, Khoo KH, Rosen SD. Galactose 6-O-sulfotransferases are not required for the generation of Siglec-F ligands in leukocytes or lung tissue. J Biol Chem. 2013 Sep 13; 288(37):26533-45.  View on PubMed
  12. Kim JH, Chan C, Elwell C, Singer MS, Dierks T, Lemjabbar-Alaoui H, Rosen SD, Engel JN. Endosulfatases SULF1 and SULF2 limit Chlamydia muridarum infection. Cell Microbiol. 2013 Sep; 15(9):1560-71.  View on PubMed
  13. Patnode ML, Yu SY, Cheng CW, Ho MY, Tegesjö L, Sakuma K, Uchimura K, Khoo KH, Kannagi R, Rosen SD. KSGal6ST generates galactose-6-O-sulfate in high endothelial venules but does not contribute to L-selectin-dependent lymphocyte homing. Glycobiology. 2013 Mar; 23(3):381-94.  View on PubMed
  14. Lui NS, van Zante A, Rosen SD, Jablons DM, Lemjabbar-Alaoui H. SULF2 expression by immunohistochemistry and overall survival in oesophageal cancer: a cohort study. BMJ Open. 2012; 2(6).  View on PubMed
  15. Zhang Y, Chen YC, Krummel MF, Rosen SD. Autotaxin through lysophosphatidic acid stimulates polarization, motility, and transendothelial migration of naive T cells. J Immunol. 2012 Oct 15; 189(8):3914-24.  View on PubMed
  16. Phillips JJ, Huillard E, Robinson AE, Ward A, Lum DH, Polley MY, Rosen SD, Rowitch DH, Werb Z. Heparan sulfate sulfatase SULF2 regulates PDGFRα signaling and growth in human and mouse malignant glioma. J Clin Invest. 2012 Mar; 122(3):911-22.  View on PubMed
  17. Lee SM, Rosen S, Weinstein P, van Rooijen N, Noble-Haeusslein LJ. Prevention of both neutrophil and monocyte recruitment promotes recovery after spinal cord injury. J Neurotrauma. 2011 Sep; 28(9):1893-907.  View on PubMed
  18. Arata-Kawai H, Singer MS, Bistrup A, Zante Av, Wang YQ, Ito Y, Bao X, Hemmerich S, Fukuda M, Rosen SD. Functional contributions of N- and O-glycans to L-selectin ligands in murine and human lymphoid organs. Am J Pathol. 2011 Jan; 178(1):423-33.  View on PubMed
  19. Rosen SD, Lemjabbar-Alaoui H. Sulf-2: an extracellular modulator of cell signaling and a cancer target candidate. Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2010 Sep; 14(9):935-49.  View on PubMed
  20. Uchimura K, Lemjabbar-Alaoui H, van Kuppevelt TH, Rosen SD. Use of a phage display antibody to measure the enzymatic activity of the Sulfs. Methods Enzymol. 2010; 480:51-64.  View on PubMed

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