Honors & Awards

  • Abstract Achievement Award, American Society for Hematology (10/2013)
  • Mildred Scheel Fellowship, Deutsche Krebshilfe (German Cancer Aid) (03/2012 - 09/2014)

Professional Education

  • Diplom, Ruprecht Karl Universitat Heidelberg (2007)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Ruprecht Karl Universitat Heidelberg (2011)
  • Master, Ruprecht-Karls- Universitat Heidelberg, Molecular Biology (2007)

Stanford Advisors


Journal Articles

  • Lenalidomide reduces survival of chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells in primary cocultures by altering the myeloid microenvironment. Blood Schulz, A., Dürr, C., Zenz, T., Döhner, H., Stilgenbauer, S., Lichter, P., Seiffert, M. 2013; 121 (13): 2503-2511


    Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells depend on microenvironmental stimuli for their survival, provided for example by monocyte-derived nurse-like cells (NLCs). The immunomodulatory drug lenalidomide shows therapeutic effects in subgroups of CLL patients, and is believed to act via the microenvironment. To investigate the effects of lenalidomide on the survival support of NLCs, cocultures of monocytes and CLL cells were treated for 14 days with lenalidomide, which resulted in significantly decreased viability of CLL cells. Among the changes induced by this drug, we observed reduced expression of HLA-DR in NLCs as well as increased secretion of interleukin-10 (IL-10), indicating an altered inflammatory milieu in the cocultures. The increase in IL-10 levels lead to an induction of STAT1 phosphorylation in CLL cells and to enhanced cell-surface expression of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 and altered expression of cytoskeletal and migration-related genes. Chemotaxis assays with lenalidomide-treated CLL cells revealed an impaired migration capability. Our data show that lenalidomide reduces the survival support of NLCs for CLL cells in vitro, suggesting that this drug affects the myeloid microenvironment in CLL in vivo. Furthermore, lenalidomide acts on the migratory potential of CLL cells, which may affect circulation and homing of CLL cells in vivo.

    View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2012-08-447664

    View details for PubMedID 23349394

  • Inflammatory cytokines and signaling pathways are associated with survival of primary chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells in vitro: a dominant role of CCL2 HAEMATOLOGICA-THE HEMATOLOGY JOURNAL Schulz, A., Toedt, G., Zenz, T., Stilgenbauer, S., Lichter, P., Seiffert, M. 2011; 96 (3): 408-416


    Chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells show prolonged survival in vivo, but rapidly die by spontaneous apoptosis in vitro, unless they are co-cultured with stromal cells or non-malignant leukocytes. The objective of this study was to characterize the survival-inducing cross-talk of chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells with their microenvironment to identify novel therapeutic targets.We analyzed and compared microarray-based expression profiles of chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells before and after three different survival-inducing culture conditions: (i) stromal cell co-culture, (ii) stromal cell conditioned medium and (iii) high cell density cultures of unsorted peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Cytokine antibody arrays were applied to study the composition of soluble factors present in these cultures.The different survival-supportive culture conditions induced distinct gene expression changes, the majority of which were common to all three conditions. Pathway analyses identified - in addition to known signaling networks in chronic lymphocytic leukemia - novel pathways, of which Toll-like receptor signaling, nuclear respiratory factor-2 (NRF2)-mediated oxidative stress response, and signaling via triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells-1 (TREM1) were the most relevant. A high proportion of up-regulated genes were inflammatory cytokines, of which chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2) was shown to be induced in monocytes by the presence of chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells in vitro. In addition, increased serum levels of this chemokine were detected in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.Our data provide several lines of evidence that an inflammatory microenvironment is induced in survival-supportive cultures of chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells which might be directly or indirectly involved in the prolonged survival of the malignant cells.

    View details for DOI 10.3324/haematol.2010.031377

    View details for Web of Science ID 000288767000011

    View details for PubMedID 21134984

  • Soluble CD14 is a novel monocyte-derived survival factor for chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells, which is induced by CLL cells in vitro and present at abnormally high levels in vivo BLOOD Seiffert, M., Schulz, A., Ohl, S., Doehner, H., Stilgenbauer, S., Lichter, P. 2010; 116 (20): 4223-4230


    Accumulation of leukemic cells in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is due to prolonged cell survival rather than increased proliferation. Survival of CLL cells depends on microenvironmental factors. Even though long-lived in vivo, CLL cells rapidly die by spontaneous apoptosis in vitro unless cocultured with stromal cells or their conditioned medium. In the present study, we show that survival of CLL cells is maintained in high cell density cultures, where the main prosurvival activity is delivered by monocytes. Cytokine array and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay studies revealed increased expression of soluble CD14 by monocytes in the presence of CLL cells. The addition of recombinant soluble CD14 to primary CLL cells resulted in significantly increased cell survival rates, which were associated with higher activity nuclear factor ?B. Quantification of serum levels of soluble CD14 revealed abnormally high levels of this protein in CLL patients, indicating a potential role of soluble CD14 in vivo. In summary, the presented data show that monocytes help in the survival of CLL cells by secreting soluble CD14, which induces nuclear factor ?B activation in these cells, and that CLL cells actively shape their microenvironment by inducing CD14 secretion in accessory monocytes.

    View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2010-05-284505

    View details for Web of Science ID 000284359400030

    View details for PubMedID 20660791

  • Off-target effects of siRNA specific for GFP BMC MOLECULAR BIOLOGY Tschuch, C., Schulz, A., Pscherer, A., Werft, W., Benner, A., Hotz-Wagenblatt, A., Barrionuevo, L. S., Lichter, P., Mertens, D. 2008; 9


    Gene knock down by RNAi is a highly effective approach to silence gene expression in experimental as well as therapeutic settings. However, this widely used methodology entails serious pitfalls, especially concerning specificity of the RNAi molecules.We tested the most widely used control siRNA directed against GFP for off-target effects and found that it deregulates in addition to GFP a set of endogenous target genes. The off-target effects were dependent on the amount of GFP siRNA transfected and were detected in a variety of cell lines. Since the respective siRNA molecule specific for GFP is widely used as negative control for RNAi experiments, we studied the complete set of off-target genes of this molecule by genome-wide expression profiling. The detected modulated mRNAs had target sequences homologous to the siRNA as small as 8 basepairs in size. However, we found no restriction of sequence homology to 3'UTR of target genes.We can show that even siRNAs without a physiological target have sequence-specific off-target effects in mammalian cells. Furthermore, our analysis defines the off-target genes affected by the siRNA that is commonly used as negative control and directed against GFP. Since off-target effects can hardly be avoided, the best strategy is to identify false positives and exclude them from the results. To this end, we provide the set of false positive genes deregulated by the commonly used GFP siRNA as a reference resource for future siRNA experiments.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/1471-2199-9-60

    View details for Web of Science ID 000257445700001

    View details for PubMedID 18577207

Stanford Medicine Resources: