Christina M. Hull

Christina M. Hull

Associate Professor

(also Medical Microbiology and Immunology)

5204B Biochemical Sciences Building

440 Henry Mall

Madison WI 53706

Phone: (608) 265-5441




• B.S. 1992, University of Utah
• Ph.D. 2000, University of California - San Francisco (A.D. Johnson)
• Postdoctoral 2000-2003, Duke University (J. Heitman)

Honors & Awards

• University of Utah Honors Baccalaureate Award for Graduate Studies, 1992
• Damon Runyon Cancer Research Fund Post-Doctoral Fellowship, 2001-2003
• American Society for Cell Biology-Merton Bernfield Memorial Award, 2002
• Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, Bell Basic Science Research Award, 2002
• Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center Armstrong Fellow, 2003
• Committee for the Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau Scholarship, 2003
• Burroughs Wellcome Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences, 2003-2008
• UW/HHMI Career Development Award, 2004
• March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award, 2005-2007
• UW Madison Medical Education Research Committee New Investigator Award, 2005-2007
• American Society for Microbiology, Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award, 2006
• UW Women in Science & Engineering Institute, Vilas Life Cycle Professorship, 2010, 2015
• Hartwell Foundation Biomedical Research Award, 2015-2018

Research Summary

Despite their importance in many areas, fungi represents a woefully understudied branch in the tree of life. The consequences of this deficiency on humans are no more apparent than in our lack of understanding of human fungal pathogens. Fungi now represents the fourth most common cause of hospital-acquired infection, and therapeutic options for treating severe disease are limited. In addition, the mechanisms by which fungi reproduce and interact with the environment (including human hosts) are largely unknown.

Research in my laboratory focuses on three broad areas: 1) understanding the molecular mechanisms that control fungal development and sporulation, 2) elucidating the basic properties of spores that allow them to be infectious particles, and 3) characterizing key interactions between fungal spores and the mammalian immune response.

We use the meningitis-causing environmental fungus Cryptococcus neoformans as a model for our studies. C. neoformans causes over a million cases of disease and approximately 600,000 deaths per year worldwide. Among the human fungal pathogens C. neoformans is the most amenable to laboratory analysis and represents a relatively facile system for the study of fungal development and virulence.

Using biochemical, genetic, molecular, bioinformatic, and cell biological approaches we are elucidating the basic processes and mechanisms important for C. neoformans to undergo sexual development (gene regulation, protein-DNA interactions, transcriptional networks), determining the resistance, growth, and surface properties of spores (cell differentiation, developmental biology, carbohydrate chemistry), and investigating how spores interact with macrophages in culture and in mice (immunology, virulence).

Publications of Note

Complete List of Published Work for Dr. Hull in MyBibliography (click on link).

• Mead ME, Stanton BC, Kruzel EK, Hull CM (2015) Targets of the Sex Inducer homeodomain proteins are required for fungal development and virulence in Cryptococcus neoformans. Mol. Microbiol. 95(5):804-18 (PMC4339537)

• Botts MR, Huang M, Borchardt RK, Hull CM (2014) Developmental cell fate and virulence are linked to trehalose homeostasis in Cryptococcus neoformans. Eukaryotic Cell 13(9):1158-68 (PMC4187628)

• Kruzel EK, Giles SS, Hull CM (2012) Analysis of Cryptococcus neoformans sexual development reveals rewiring of the pheromone-response network by a change in transcription factor identity. Genetics 191(2):435-49 (PMC3374309)

Hull CM (2011) Preventing phagocytosis takes more than a sweet disposition. Cell Host Microbe 9(3):174-5

• Kruzel EK, Hull CM (2010) Establishing an unusual cell type: how to make a dikaryon. Curr. Opin. Microbiol. 13(6):706-11 (PMC2994965)

• Botts MR, Hull CM (2010) Dueling in the lung: how Cryptococcus spores race the host for survival. Curr. Opin. Microbiol. 13(4):437-42 (PMC2920366)

• Staudt MW, Kruzel EK, Shimizu K, Hull CM (2010) Characterizing the role of the microtubule binding protein Bim1 in Cryptococcus neoformans. Fungal Genet. Biol. 47(4):310-7 (PMC2835843)

• Stanton BC, Giles SS, Staudt MW, Kruzel EK, Hull CM (2010) Allelic exchange of pheromones and their receptors reprograms sexual identity in Cryptococcus neoformans. PLoS Genet. 6(2):e1000860 (PMC2829064)

• Giles SS, Dagenais TR, Botts MR, Keller NP, Hull CM (2009) Elucidating the pathogenesis of spores from the human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans. Infect. Immun. 77(8):3491-500 (PMC2715683)

• Stanton BC, Giles SS, Kruzel EK, Warren CL, Ansari AZ, Hull CM (2009) Cognate Site Identifier analysis reveals novel binding properties of the Sex Inducer homeodomain proteins of Cryptococcus neoformans. Mol. Microbiol. 72(6):1334-47 (PMC2776684)

• Botts MR, Giles SS, Gates MA, Kozel TR, Hull CM (2009) Isolation and characterization of Cryptococcus neoformans spores reveal a critical role for capsule biosynthesis genes in spore biogenesis. Eukaryotic Cell 8(4):595-605 (PMC2669189)

• Kent CR, Ortiz-Bermúdez P, Giles SS, Hull CM (2008) Formulation of a defined V8 medium for induction of sexual development of Cryptococcus neoformans. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 74(20):6248-53 (PMC2570290)

• Ekena JL, Stanton BC, Schiebe-Owens JA, Hull CM (2008) Sexual development in Cryptococcus neoformans requires CLP1, a target of the homeodomain transcription factors Sxi1α and Sxi2a. Eukaryotic Cell 7(1):49-57 (PMC2224147)

Hull CM (2006) Single gene control of a complex phenotype hangs in the balance. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 103(34):12659-60 (PMC1568903)

• Lin, X., Hull CM, Heitman J (2005) Sexual reproduction between partners of the same mating type in Cryptococcus neoformans. Nature 434:1017-1021

Hull CM, Boily MJ, Heitman J (2005) The cell type-specific homeodomain proteins Sxi1α and Sxi2a coordinately regulate sexual development in Cryptococcus neoformans. Eukaryotic Cell 4:526-535