The Voelkel-Johnson Lab

Photo of Christina Voelkel-Johnson

Christina Voelkel-Johnson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Microbiology and Immunology

1995-2000 Postdoctoral Fellow, MUSC


1995 Ph.D., North Carolina State University

Contact Info
Tel: 843-792-3125
Basic Science Building, Room 208G

Research Interests:
Sphingolipid metabolism and signaling
Cancer cell death pathways
Cancer therapeutics

Recent Publications | Additional Publications
Lu P, White-Gilbertson S, Nganga R, Kester M, Voelkel-Johnson C. “Expression of the SNAI2 transcriptional repressor is regulated by C16-ceramide.” Cancer Biol Ther. 2019 Mar 5:1-9. doi: 10.1080/15384047.2019.1579962. [Epub ahead of print]

Nganga R, Oleinik N, Kim J, Selvam SP, De Palma R, Johnson KA, Parikh RY, Gangaraju V, Peterson Y, Dany M, Stahelin RV, Voelkel-Johnson C, Szulc ZM, Bieberich E, Ogretmen B. “Receptor-interacting Ser/Thr kinase 1 (RIPK1) and myosin IIA-dependent ceramidosomes form membrane pores that mediate blebbing and necroptosis.” J Biol Chem. 2019 Jan 11;294(2):502-519. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.005865. Epub 2018 Nov 12.
PMID: 30420430

Voelkel-Johnson C, Norris JS, White-Gilbertson S. “Interdiction of Sphingolipid Metabolism Revisited: Focus on Prostate Cancer.” Adv Cancer Res. 2018;140:265-293. doi: 10.1016/bs.acr.2018.04.014. Epub 2018 Jun 20.

Scheffel MJ, Scurti G, Wyatt MM, Garrett-Mayer E, Paulos CM, Nishimura MI, Voelkel-Johnson C. “N-acetyl cysteine protects anti-melanoma cytotoxic T cells from exhaustion induced by rapid expansion via the downmodulation of Foxo1 in an Akt-dependent manner.” Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2018 Apr;67(4):691-702. doi: 10.1007/s00262-018-2120-5. Epub 2018 Feb 2.

Helke K, Angel P, Lu P, Garrett-Mayer E, Ogretmen B, Drake R, Voelkel-Johnson C. “Ceramide Synthase 6 Deficiency Enhances Inflammation in the DSS model of Colitis.” Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 26;8(1):1627. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-20102-z.

Scheffel MJ, Helke K, Lu P, Bowers JS, Ogretmen B, Garrett-Mayer E, Paulos CM, Voelkel-Johnson C. “Adoptive Transfer of Ceramide Synthase 6 Deficient Splenocytes Reduces the Development of Colitis.” Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 14;7(1):15552. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-15791-x.

Camp ER, Patterson LD, Kester M, Voelkel-Johnson C. “Therapeutic implications of bioactive sphingolipids: A focus on colorectal cancer.” Cancer Biol Ther. 2017 Sep 2;18(9):640-650. doi: 10.1080/15384047.2017.1345396. Epub 2017 Jul 7.

Scheffel MJ, Scurti G, Simms P, Garrett-Mayer E, Mehrotra S, Nishimura MI, Voelkel-Johnson C. “Efficacy of Adoptive T-cell Therapy Is Improved by Treatment with the Antioxidant N-Acetyl Cysteine, Which Limits Activation-Induced T-cell Death.” Cancer Res. 2016 Oct 15;76(20):6006-6016.

Lewis CS, Voelkel-Johnson C, Smith CD. “Suppression of c-Myc and RRM2 expression in pancreatic cancer cells by the sphingosine kinase-2 inhibitor ABC294640.” Oncotarget. 2016 Sep 13;7(37):60181-60192. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.11112.

White-Gilbertson S, Davis M, Voelkel-Johnson C, Kasman LM. “Sex differences in the MB49 syngeneic, murine model of bladder cancer.” Bladder (San Franc). 2016;3(1). pii: e22. Epub 2016 Feb 26.

Venant H, Rahmaniyan M, Jones EE, Lu P, Lilly MB, Garrett-Mayer E, Drake RR, Kraveka JM, Smith CD, Voelkel-Johnson C. “The Sphingosine Kinase 2 Inhibitor ABC294640 Reduces the Growth of Prostate Cancer Cells and Results in Accumulation of Dihydroceramides In Vitro and In Vivo.” Mol Cancer Ther. 2015 Dec;14(12):2744-52. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-15-0279. Epub 2015 Oct 22.

Tirodkar TS, Lu P, Bai A, Scheffel MJ, Gencer S, Garrett-Mayer E, Bielawska A, Ogretmen B, Voelkel-Johnson C. “Expression of Ceramide Synthase 6 Transcriptionally Activates Acid Ceramidase in a c-Jun N-terminal Kinase (JNK)-dependent Manner.” J Biol Chem. 2015 May 22;290(21):13157-67. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M114.631325. Epub 2015 Apr 3.

Research Support

P01 CA203628 (Ogretmen) 5/1/16-4/30/21
Development of Novel Cancer Therapeutics by Targeting Sphingolipid Signaling
The overall goal is to determine common signaling mechanisms regulated by sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) that induce cancer cell proliferation, resistance to therapy, and metastasis in solid tumors. The therapeutic goal is to utilize mechanistic information gained from these studies for the development of novel therapeutic strategies to treat patients with solid tumors, such as prostate, urinary and/or liver cancers by targeting pro-survival S1P signaling.
Role: Project Leader

CX001880 (PI: Camp) 3/1/19-2/28/23
VA CSR&D Merit Award
Targeting Sphingosine-1-phosphate to overcome SNAI1-mediated therapy resistance in rectal cancer The goal of this project is to use a unique patient-derived xenograft mouse model of advanced rectal cancer to investigate the role of the tumor-initiating cell (TIC) in mediating chemoradiation resistance as well as to assess targeting sphingosine-1-phosphate as a TIC-directed molecular strategy to improve therapy response.
Role: Co-Investigator

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