Katzenellenbogen Lab

The research laboratory of Rachel Katzenellenbogen, MD is focused on human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a very common infection that affects more than 75 percent of the adult population. Nearly 5 percent of cancers worldwide are caused by HPV. Based on their association with cancer, different types of HPV are categorized as high-risk or low-risk.

The Katzenellenbogen Lab focuses on the host-pathogen interactions that activate oncogenic pathways and dysregulate typical cellular processes to permit cancer development and progression of HPV-associated cancers. The laboratory conducts fundamental molecular biology studies and works to link those models of disease to true pathophysiology in people.

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Active Research

The Katzenellenbogen Lab is interested in understanding how the high-risk (HR) HPV viral oncogenes E6 and E7 drive cancer development and progression. Specifically, the laboratory studies the protein partnerships between HR E6 and cellular proteins that are co-opted from their typical role in cells.

The laboratory has identified that the protein partnership of HR E6 and the cellular protein NFX1-123 is fundamental to the upregulation of telomerase — a required enzyme for cellular immortalization and universally activated in HPV-associated cancers — and to Notch1, a master cell fate regulator.

Studies in the laboratory have identified novel gene expression mechanisms used by HR E6 and NFX1-123, including RNA stabilization of the catalytic subunit of telomerase, known as hTERT, to drive its augmented expression.

The Katzenellenbogen Lab leverages normal and HPV-associated patient cancer samples to link the basic molecular pathology and mechanistic work studied in the laboratory to true clinical disease. The laboratory recognizes understanding the basic biology of an HR HPV infection in a host cell is fundamental in demonstrating ways to identify, treat, and eliminate the morbidity and mortality associated with HR HPV infections.

Meet Rachel Katzenellenbogen

Katzenellenbogen joined IU School of Medicine as the inaugural Chuck and Tina Pagano Scholar in September 2018. Learn about her work and journey to Indiana.

Book encourages women to 'rock science'

In 2019, Katzenellenbogen co-authored a pocket guide to help women navigate career choices in clinical academic medicine.

Research Funding

June 1, 2020-May 31, 2025


"High-risk HPV E6: Dysregulation of immortalization, growth, and differentiation through protein partnerships in HPV-associated cancers"

The goals of this project are to uncover how cellular growth and differentiation are hijacked by HPV, and how cellular immortalization is temporally and longitudinally activated by HPV, all of which must occur for HPV-associated cancer development and progression.

June 4, 2014—May 31, 2019


“HPV E6 and NFX1-123 in differentiation, cell regulation and cancer”

The major goals of this project are to understand the collaborative role of NFX1-123 and HPV E6 in gene regulation, in epithelial architecture, and in cancer development and progression.

Sept. 2020 - Aug. 2025
"Project 3- Determining biological and viral factors associated with clinical progression of cervical dysplasia in HIV-infected women"

The major goals of this project, embedded within the U54 parent project “The East Africa Consortium for HPV and Cervical Cancer in Women Living with HIV/AIDS,” are to compare clinical screening exams to collected biologic samples in order to quantify function biomarkers and identify HPV through typing and sequencing, leading to a roadmap to discriminate between women with greater risk of HPV-associated precancerous lesions.

Recent Publications

For a full list of Dr. Katzenellenbogen’s publications, find her on PubMed.

Kelly MK, Katzenellenbogen RA, Fiks AG. What Health Systems Can Do Now to Improve Human Papillomavirus Vaccination. JAMA Pediatr. 2024 Jan 1;178(1):13-14. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2023.5070. PubMed PMID: 37983044.

Chintala S, Dankoski MA, Anbarasu A, Ramaiah S, Miryala SK, Katzenellenbogen RA. NFX1-123: A potential therapeutic target in cervical cancer. J Med Virol. 2023 Jun;95(6):e28856. doi: 10.1002/jmv.28856. PubMed PMID: 37288708; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC10264143.

Billingsley CL, Chintala S, Katzenellenbogen RA. Post-Transcriptional Gene Regulation by HPV 16E6 and Its Host Protein Partners. Viruses. 2022 Jul 6;14(7). doi: 10.3390/v14071483. Review. PubMed PMID: 35891463; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC9315527.

Tong Y, Orang'o E, Nakalembe M, Tonui P, Itsura P, Muthoka K, Titus M, Kiptoo S, Mwangi A, Ong'echa J, Tonui R, Odongo B, Mpamani C, Rosen B, Moormann A, Cu-Uvin S, Bailey JA, Oduor CI, Ermel A, Yiannoutsos C, Musick B, Sang E, Ngeresa A, Banturaki G, Kiragga A, Zhang J, Song Y, Chintala S, Katzenellenbogen R, Loehrer P, Brown DR. The East Africa Consortium for human papillomavirus and cervical cancer in women living with HIV/AIDS. Ann Med. 2022 Dec;54(1):1202-1211. doi: 10.1080/07853890.2022.2067897. Review. PubMed PMID: 35521812; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC9090376.

Katzenellenbogen RA. Maternal Experiences With Human Papillomavirus and Vaccination Rates in Children-The Sound of Salience. JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Dec 1;4(12):e2137604. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.37604. PubMed PMID: 34902043.

Quist KM, Solorzano I, Wendel SO, Chintala S, Wu C, Wallace NA, Katzenellenbogen RA. Cervical Cancer Development: Implications of HPV16 E6E7-NFX1-123 Regulated Genes. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Dec 8;13(24). doi: 10.3390/cancers13246182. PubMed PMID: 34944802; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8699269.

Chintala S, Quist KM, Gonzalez-DeWhitt PA, Katzenellenbogen RA. High expression of NFX1-123 in HPV positive head and neck squamous cell carcinomas. Head Neck. 2022 Jan;44(1):177-188. doi: 10.1002/hed.26906. Epub 2021 Oct 25. PubMed PMID: 34693597; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8688290.

Chintala, S., Katzenellenbogen, R. A. (2021). NFX1, Its Isoforms and Roles in Biology, Disease and Cancer. Biology (Basel), 10(4), 279, DOI: 10.3390/biology10040279. PMCID: PMC8067315

Imburgia, T., Shew, M., Gravitt, P., Katzenellenbogen, R. A. (2021). Considerations for Child Cancer Survivors and Immunocompromised Children to Prevent Secondary HPV-associated Cancers. Transplantation, 105(4), 736-742. DOI: 10.1097/TP0000000000003444.

S Chintala, J Levan, K Robinson, K Quist, RA Katzenellenbogen (2020). Genes Regulated by HPV 16 E6 and High Expression of NFX1-123 in Cervical Cancers. OncoTargets and therapy, 13, 6143-6156. PMCID: PMC7326398.

Levan J, Vliet-Gregg PA, Robinson KL, Matsumoto LR, RA Katzenellenbogen . HPV type 16 E6 and NFX1-123 augment JNK signaling to mediate keratinocyte differentiation and L1 expression. Virology. 2019 May;531:171-182. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2019.03.008. Epub 2019 Mar 16. PubMed PMID: 30903928; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6486444.

Vliet-Gregg PA, Robinson KL, Levan J, Matsumoto LR, RA Katzenellenbogen. NFX1-123 is highly expressed in cervical cancer and increases growth and telomerase activity in HPV 16E6 expressing cells. Cancer Lett. 2019 May 1;449:106-113. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2019.02.024. Epub 2019 Feb 16. PubMed PMID: 30776478; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6433130.

RA Katzenellenbogen, Fife KH. Young Women and Oral Human Papillomavirus-Vaccination Is Associated With Protection. JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Oct 2;2(10):e1914038. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.14038. PubMed PMID: 31651962.

J Levan, P Vliet-Gregg, K Robinson, and RA Katzenellenbogen. Human papillomavirus type 16 E6 and NFX1-123 mislocalize immune signaling proteins and downregulate immune gene expression in keratinocytes. PLoS One 2017; 12(11):e0187514. PMID29117186. PMC5695606.

RA Katzenellenbogen, JJ Carter, JE Stern, MS Butsch Kovacic, PA Mehta, SL Sauter, DA Galloway and RL Winer. Skin and mucosal human papillomavirus seroprevalence in persons with Fanconi Anemia. Clin Vaccine Immunol 2015;22(4):413-420. PMID25651924. PMC4375352.

PA Vliet-Gregg, JR Hamilton and RA Katzenellenbogen. Human papillomavirus 16E6 and NFX1-123 potentiate Notch signaling and differentiation without activating cellular arrest. Virology 2015;478:50-60. PMID25723053. PMC4383269.

RL Winer, CE Huang, S Cherne, JE Stern, MS Butsch Kovacic, PA Mehta, SL Sauter, DA Galloway and RA Katzenellenbogen. Detection of human papillomavirus in the oral cavities of persons with Fanconi anemia. Oral Dis 2015;21(3):349-354. PMID25158861. PMC4344428.

PA Vliet-Gregg, JR Hamilton and RA Katzenellenbogen. NFX1-123 and human papillomavirus 16E6 increase Notch expression in keratinocytes. J Virol 2013;87(24):13741-13750. PMID24109236. PMC3838236.

M Xu, RA Katzenellenbogen, C Grandori and DA Galloway. An unbiased in vivo screen reveals multiple transcription factors that control HPV E6-regulated hTERT in keratinocytes. Virology 2013;446(1-2):17-24. PMID24074563. PMC3787310.

Faculty Research Team

Rachel A. Katzenellenbogen, MD

Richard E. and Pauline P. Klingler Professor of Pediatrics

Sreenivasulu Chintala, PhD

Associate Research Professor of Pediatrics

Additional Research Team Members

Additional research team members in the Katzenellenbogen Lab are Kevin Quist, laboratory manager; DeShawn Thompson, research technician; Caylin Billingsley, graduate student in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD); and Maura Dankoski, graduate student in the Translational Cancer Biology Program.