Micah Alan Luftig, PhD

Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Contact                                                              Department/Division

919-668-3091                                                    Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology

micah.luftig@duke.edu                                    Duke Cancer Institute                                 

The Luftig laboratory focuses on the mechanisms by which Epstein-Barr virus activates and ultimately subverts the host oncogenic stress response to growth transform primary B lymphocytes into indefinitely proliferating lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). EBV infection of B cells leads to a latent growth program where eight viral proteins and several non-coding RNAs are expressed. Among these gene products, latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) and Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen (EBNA) 2 are the core transforming oncogenes. These proteins are capable of driving B cell proliferation and act to suppress the apoptotic response induced by aberrant S phase induction. The goals of the laboratory include: i) understanding the host pathways that respond to and suppress EBV-mediated growth transformation, ii) understanding the viral gene products important for activating the oncogenic stress response and ultimately overcoming this response, and iii) identifying and characterizing a cell population within the CD21-expressing primary B cell population that has an increased susceptibility to oncogenic stress.