Anatomy and Cell Biology

Thomas Rutkowski, PhD


Associate Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology

Contact Information

Office: 1-570 Bowen Science Building
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-7739

Lab: 1-500 Bowen Science Building
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-7735

Web: Publications via PubMed


BS, Biotechnology, University of Delaware
PhD, Cell Biology, University of California San Francisco

Post Doctorate, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Michigan Medical Center

Education/Training Program Affiliations

Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology Graduate Program
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology
Medical Scientist Training Program

Research Summary

Our laboratory seeks to understand a fundamental but very poorly understood question in biology: When a cell encounters stress (i.e., anything that perturbs normal cellular function), how does it decide whether to adapt to the stress or die? We use diverse experimental approaches to address this question, encompassing systems biology, molecular and cell biology, and vertebrate genetics and physiology. By tackling this question, we hope to better understand diseases of stress, including neurodegeneration, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and others, and even normal cellular development and function. There are many ways in which stress can be manifested to a cell, including pathogenic infection, chemical insult, genetic mutation, nutrient deprivation, and the course of normal cellular function. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the site of synthesis and folding of secretory and cell-surface proteins. The cellular response to ER stress (also known as the Unfolded Protein Response, or UPR) serves as a model for understanding not only the mechanisms by which stress is sensed, but also the ways in which the consequences of alterations of homeostasis in one location (i.e., the ER) impact diverse areas of cell function, including gene expression, metabolism, cancer, cell signaling, and apoptosis.

Center, Program and Institute Affiliations

Center for Gene Therapy of Cystic Fibrosis and other Genetic Diseases
Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center
Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center

Selected Publications

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DeZwaan-McCabe D, Riordan J, Arensdorf A, Icardi M, Dupuy A, Rutkowski D.  The stress-regulated transcription factor CHOP promotes hepatic inflammatory gene expression, fibrosis, and oncogenesis.  PLoS Genetics.  2013 December. 9:e1003937.

Arensdorf A, Diedrichs D, Rutkowski D.  Regulation of the transcriptome by ER stress: non-canonical mechanisms and physiological consequences.  Frontiers in Genetics.  2013 November. 4:256.

Arensdorf A, Rutkowski D.  Endoplasmic reticulum stress impairs IL-4/IL-13 signaling through C/EBPβ-mediated transcriptional suppression.  Journal of Cell Science.  2013 September. 126:4026-4036.

Arensdorf A, DeZwaan-McCabe D, Kaufman R, Rutkowski D.  Temporal clustering of gene expression links the transcription factor HNF4α to ER stress-induced fatty liver.  Frontiers in Genetics.  2013 September. 4:188.

Chikka M, McCabe D, Tyra H, Rutkowski D.  C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP) contributes to suppression of metabolic genes during endoplasmic reticulum stress in the liver..  The Journal of biological chemistry.  2013 February. 288(6):4405-15.

Gomez J, Tyra H, DeZwaan-McCabe D, Olivier A, Rutkowski D.  Synthetic embryonic lethality upon deletion of the ER cochaperone p58IPK and the ER stress sensor ATF6α.  Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.  2013. 

Tyra H, Spitz D, Rutkowski D.  Inhibition of fatty acid oxidation enhances oxidative protein folding and protects hepatocytes from endoplasmic reticulum stress..  Molecular biology of the cell.  2012 March. 23(5):811-9.

Wu J, Ruas J, Estall J, Rasbach K, Choi J, Ye L, Bostrom P, Tyra H, Crawford R, Campbell K, Rutkowski D, Kaufman R, Spiegelman B.  The unfolded protein response mediates adaptation to exercise in skeletal muscle through a PGC-1α/ATF6α complex.  Cell Metabolism.  2011 February 2. 13(2):160-169.

Rutkowski D, Hegde R.  Regulation of basal cellular physiology by the homeostatic unfolded protein response..  The Journal of cell biology.  2010 May. 189(5):783-94.

Rutkowski D.  A gluconeogenic tryst in the nucleus, with ER stress as the third wheel..  Science signaling.  2009. 2(96):pe72.

Date Last Modified: 06/06/2016 - 13:17:48