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Charles Faust Ph.D.



I received my Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., in 1964. After a 2-year tour of duty in the U.S. Army, I enrolled in 1966 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, in the Biochemistry Ph.D. Graduate Program, specializing in immunochemistry, which I completed in 1969. In 1970 I began my postdoctoral studies in the Department of Molecular Biology in Goettingen, Germany, working with Dr. Heinrich Matthaei at the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine. I moved to the Department of Pathology at the University of Geneva in 1971 to continue my postdoctoral work on the molecular biology of the immune system with Drs. Pierre Vassalli and Bernard Mach. I then accepted a faculty position in the Departments of Surgery, Biochemistry and Microbiology & Immunology at Oregon Health Sciences University from 1974 through 1983. I subsequently moved to the Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, Texas.

Career highlights include a National Institutes of Health Career Development Award, and national level research funding from the NIH, National Science Foundation and American Cancer Society, in addition to numerous regional and local research awards. I have served on NIH, NSF, ACS and American Heart Association grant review panels. I enjoy teaching medical and graduate students and I have served on the dissertation committees of more than 110 students during my academic career. In 1990 I received the TTUHSC Excellence in Teaching Award.

Research Interests

My research interests are quite varied, but they focus on molecular and cellular mechanisms of the immune system in response to potentially adverse challenges to the host, including both pathological and non-pathological threats. This resulted in pioneering work on immune gene structure and function with emphasis on IgE and its receptor and their role in allergies, parasite immunity and mast cell biology. Work on molecular mechanisms of production, biological activity and toxicity of toxins A and B made by Clostridium difficile are also included here. Finally, function of the innate immune response at the fetal-maternal interface is the most recent focus of my research attention. We have observed that maternal natural killer (NK) cells, highly cytotoxic lymphocytes, accumulate extensively at the fetal-maternal interface during embryonic development, presumably in response to the fetal allograft perceived as foreign by the mother. We have also observed that a large maternal protein, cubilin, accumulates exclusively in the cytotoxic granules of these uterine NK cells. Therefore, our hypothesis is that uNK cells are held in check by molecular mechanisms operating at the cellular level, potentially involving cubilin, so that the fetus can progress to term through a normal, healthy pregnancy. In contrast, when regulation of maternal innate immune system becomes faulty, pregnancies may be aborted via aggression of uNK cells towards the fetal allograft. Therefore, understanding the basic mechanism(s) of NK cell regulation may be helpful for maintaining a normal healthy pregnancy, and eventually for reducing tissue transplant rejection, making immunotherapy of cancer more efficacious and reducing the severity of some autoimmune diseases.

Recent Publications

  • Tian, S.S. and Faust, C. "Rearrangement of Rat Immunoglobulin E Heavy-Chain and c-myc Genes in the B-Cell Immunocytoma IR162", Molec. Cell. Biol. 7: 2614-2619, 1987.
  • Stenzel-Poore, M.P., Hall, T.J., Heusser, C.H., Faust, C.H. and Rittenberg, M.B. "Immunologic Memory to PC-KLH: Participation of the Q52 VH Gene Family", J. Immunol. 139: 1698-1703, 1987.
  • Tian, S.S. and Faust, C. "A Simple and Precise, Aberrant Translocation of the Rat c-myc Gene into the ε-Heavy Chain Switch Region of the IgE-producing Immunocytoma, IR162", J. Biol. Chem. 264: 1846-1853, 1989.
  • McMillan, D.R. and C. Faust. "The Expression and Characterization of Rat IgE Produced by Construction of the Epsilon Heavy Chain Gene from Exon Modules." J. Biol. Chem. 267:4904-4910, 1992.
  • Witthuhn, B.A. and Faust, C. "Tissue Specific Expression in Mouse P815 Mastocytoma Cells of the Cloned Rat Alpha Subunit Gene of the High Affinity Receptor for IgE," Immunol. Letters 47:39-43, 1995.
  • Witthuhn, B.A. and Faust, C. "Isolation and Characterization of the Beta Subunit Gene of the High Affinity Receptor for Immunoglobulin E," Molecular Immunology 33:881-890, 1996.
  • Song, K.P. and Faust, C. "Molecular Analysis of the Promoter Region of the Clostridium difficile Toxin B Gene That Is Functional in Escherichia coli", J. Med. Microbiol. 47:309-316, 1998.
  • Faust, C., Ye, B. and Song, K.P. "The Enzymatic Domain of Clostridium difficile Toxin A Is Located within Its N-Terminal Region," Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 251:100-105, 1998.
  • Crider-Pirkle, S., Billingsley, P., Faust, C., Hardy, D.M., Lee, V., and Weitlauf, H. "Cubilin: A Binding Partner for Galectin-3 in the Murine Utero-Placental Complex," J. Biol. Chem. 277, 15904-15912, 2002.