Averil Ma, MD

Department of Medicine - Gastroenterology
+1 415 502-9405
Research Overview: 

Our lab studies the molecular mechanisms underlying autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Cellular responses to commensal microbes and other potential inflammatory factors (e.g., nucleic acids, damage associated proteins) are tightly regulated. We focus on intracellular proteins that regulate these cellular responses and prevent inflammation and tissue damage. We have focused upon a subset of ubiquitin regulating proteins, as these proteins:  (1) prevent inflammatory diseases and cancer in human patients; (2) prevent inflammation in experimental mice; (3) restrict NFkB signaling and immune cell activation; (4) restrict inflammasome activation; (5) prevent multiple forms of cell death; and (6) preserve tissue integrity. Two potent regulators of ubiquitination are A20 and its binding partner, ABIN-1 (A20 Binding Inhibitor of NFkB). Ongoing studies utilize genetic engineering, signaling, and mass spectrometry techniques to unravel the mechanisms by which A20, ABIN-1 and related proteins regulate ubiquitin dependent signals and tissue homeostasis. We hope to utilize this information to develop novel approaches of preventing inflammatory diseases. Translational research in the laboratory seeks to convert insights from biochemical and mouse based biology toward the biology of human tissues. The lab is also studying human immune cells and intestinal epithelial cells in efforts to better characterize disease subtypes as well as to optimize treatments.

Primary Thematic Area: 
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Cancer Biology & Cell Signaling
Research Summary: 
Ubiquitination, Cell Signaling and Immunity



Non-catalytic ubiquitin binding by A20 prevents psoriatic arthritis-like disease and inflammation.

Nature immunology

Razani B, Whang MI, Kim FS, Nakamura MC, Sun X, Advincula R, Turnbaugh JA, Pendse M, Tanbun P, Achacoso P, Turnbaugh PJ, Malynn BA, Ma A

A20 and ABIN-1 synergistically preserve intestinal epithelial cell survival.

The Journal of experimental medicine

Kattah MG, Shao L, Rosli YY, Shimizu H, Whang MI, Advincula R, Achacoso P, Shah S, Duong BH, Onizawa M, Tanbun P, Malynn BA, Ma A

A20 upregulation during treated HIV disease is associated with intestinal epithelial cell recovery and function.

PLoS pathogens

Chitre AS, Kattah MG, Rosli YY, Pao M, Deswal M, Deeks SG, Hunt PW, Abdel-Mohsen M, Montaner LJ, Kim CC, Ma A, Somsouk M, McCune JM

Ubiquitin-Modifying Enzymes and Regulation of the Inflammasome.

Journal of molecular biology

Kattah MG, Malynn BA, Ma A