Stephen P. Sugrue, Ph.D.

Stephen P. Sugrue, Ph.D.

Professor and Sr Assoc Dean of Research Affairs

Office: MSB M-106
Phone: (352) 273-8475
Fax: (352) 273-5232

Education and Training

Ph.D. – University of Cincinnati College of Medicine (Anatomy), Cincinnati, Ohio (1979)
B.Sc. – Providence College (Biology), Providence, Rhode Island (1975)

Postdoctoral Training

Research Associate in Anatomy and Cellular Biology, Harvard Medical School (1979-1981)
Research Fellow in Oral Biology, Harvard Medical School (1981-1983)

Research Interests

The long-term goal of research in the Sugrue lab is to elucidate the molecular determinants of the regulation of corneal epithelial cell phenotype. The quality of this specialized epithelium of the cornea requires it to tightly regulate cell adhesions, both cell-cell and cell-matrix. Indeed, the corneal epithelium possess many properties that are specific for its role at the anterior surface of the eye. The specific identity and differentiated qualities of the corneal epithelium are requisite for vision. There are, in fact, numerous examples of ocular surface diseases whereby the corneal epithelial quality or differentiative qualities are not maintained and significant anterior eye physiological perturbations and dramatic vision loss result. Many of these pathological states may include the transformation of the corneal epithelium to a keratinized epithelium, which is a vastly inadequate epithelium for the corneal surface and the avascular cornea. The molecular details pertaining to how the corneal epithelial identity is established and maintained are central to vision research. Resolving these molecular details and pathways will contribute significantly to the design of new therapies to impact the maintenance and repair of the corneal epithelial phenotype and the corneal epithelium physiology and barrier.

There is now significant data supporting the contention that corneal epithelial cell identity must be held in check by constant transcriptional maintenance, or it may suffer reprogramming to alternate epithelial fates. Recent studies in the Sugrue lab focus on the nuclear protein pinin (Pnn), that was first discovered in our lab and has been implicated in many activities that place it as a key regulator of epitheliogenesis. The most recent data has taken us toward an exciting new direction involving the exploration of Pnn as a key regulator of specific epithelial identity. Recent data implicates Pnn as a key contributor to the establishment and maintenance of the corneal epithelial identity.


Joo, J-H., Taxter, T.J., Munguba, G.C., Kim, Y.H., Dhaduvai, K., Dunn, N.W., Degan, W. J., Oh, S.P., Sugrue, S.P. Pinin modulates expression of an intestinal homebox gene, Cdx2, and plays an essential role for small intestinal morphogenesis. Developmental Biology 2010 345(2):191-203.  PubMed | Journal

Joo, J-H., Kim, Y.H., Dunn, N.W., Sugrue, S.P. Disruption of Mouse Corneal Epithelial Differentiation by Conditional Inactivation of Pnn. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2010 Apr; 51(4):1927-34.  PubmedJournal

Alpatov, R., Shi, Y., Munguba, G.C., Moghimi, B., Joo, J-H., Bungert, J., Sugrue, S.P. Corepressor CtBP and Nuclear Speckle Protein Pnn/DrS Differentially Modulate Transcription and Splicing of the E-Cadherin Gene. Mol Cell Biol. 2008 Mar;28(5):1584-95.  Pubmed | Journal

Joo, J-H., Lee, Y.J., Munguba, G.C., Park, S., Taxter, T.J., Elsagga, M.Y., Jackson, M.R., Oh, S.P., Sugrue, S.P. Role of Pinin in neural crest, dorsal dermis, and axial skeleton development and the involvement in the regulation of Tcf/Lef activity in mice. Dev. Dyn., 2007. August:236(8):2147-58.  Pubmed | Journal

Moira R. Jackson and Stephen P. Sugrue. Chapter 77: Cutaneous Melanoma. In: Principles of Molecular Medicine, Second Edition, M.S. Runge and C. Patterson, Humana Press, Inc., Totwa, NJ, accepted February 24, 2006

Joo JH, Alpatov R, Munguba GC, Jackson MR, Hunt ME, and Sugrue, SP. Reduction of Pnn by RNAi induces loss of cell-cell adhesion between human corneal epithelial cells. Mol Vis. 2005 Feb 18;11:133-42.  Pubmed | Journal

Alpatov R, Munguba GC, Caton P, Joo JH, Shi Y, Shi Y, Hunt ME, and Sugrue SP. Nuclear Speckle-Associated Protein Pnn/DRS Binds to the Transcriptional Corepressor CtBP and Relieves CtBP-Mediated Repression of the E-Cadherin Gene. Mol Cell Biol. 2004 Dec;24(23):10223-35.  Pubmed | Journal

Zimowska G, Shi J, Simmons M, Shi Y, and Sugrue SP. Pinin/DRS/memA interacts with SRp75, SRm300 and SRrp130 in corneal epithelial cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2003 Nov;44(11):4715-23.  Pubmed | Journal

Shi Y, Simmons M, Seki T, Oh P, and Sugrue SP. Change in gene expression subsequent to induction of Pinin/DRS/memA: increase in p21cip1/waf1.Oncogene. 2001 Jul 5;20(30):4007-18.  Pubmed | Journal

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