Paulus Mrass received his MD from the University of Vienna, Austria. He then joined Wolfgang Weninger’s lab (Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA and later Centenary Institute, Sydney, Australia), where he developed imaging models suitable for exploring T cell migration and interactions directly within tumors.

In 2013, he joined Judy Cannon’s lab at the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology (University of New Mexico), where he established imaging models to study in situ migration of T cells infiltrating inflamed lungs. He maintains close collaborations with Judy Cannon’s lab.

Key Publications

Mrass P, Oruganti SR, Fricke GM, Tafoya J, Byrum JR, Yang L, Hamilton SL, Miller MJ, Moses ME, Cannon JL (2017). ROCK regulates the intermittent mode of interstitial T cell migration in inflamed lungs.  Nat Commun. 2017 Oct 18;8(1):1010. 

Kinjyo, I., Qin, J., Tan, S.Y., Wellard, C.J., Mrass, P., Ritchie, W., Doi, A., Cavanagh, L.L., Tomura, M., Sakaue-Sawano, A., et al. (2015). Real-time tracking of cell cycle progression during CD8+ effector and memory T-cell differentiation. Nat Commun 6, 6301.

Prakash, M.D., Munoz, M.A., Jain, R., Tong, P.L., Koskinen, A., Regner, M., Kleifeld, O., Ho, B., Olson, M., Turner, S.J., et al. (2014). Granzyme B promotes cytotoxic lymphocyte transmigration via basement membrane remodeling. Immunity 41, 960-972.

Haass, N.K., Beaumont, K.A., Hill, D.S., Anfosso, A., Mrass, P., Munoz, M.A., Kinjyo, I., and Weninger, W. (2014). Real-time cell cycle imaging during melanoma growth, invasion, and drug response. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res 27, 764-776.

Lasaro, M.O., Sazanovich, M., Giles-Davis, W., Mrass, P., Bunte, R.M., Sewell, D.A., Hussain, S.F., Fu, Y.X., Weninger, W., Paterson, Y., et al. (2011). Active immunotherapy combined with blockade of a coinhibitory pathway achieves regression of large tumor masses in cancer-prone mice. Mol Ther 19, 1727-1736.

Mrass, P., Petravic, J., Davenport, M.P., and Weninger, W. (2010). Cell-autonomous and environmental contributions to the interstitial migration of T cells. Semin Immunopathol 32, 257-274.

Wilson, E.H., Harris, T.H., Mrass, P., John, B., Tait, E.D., Wu, G.F., Pepper, M., Wherry, E.J., Dzierzinski, F., Roos, D., et al. (2009). Behavior of parasite-specific effector CD8+ T cells in the brain and visualization of a kinesis-associated system of reticular fibers. Immunity 30, 300-311.

John, B., Harris, T.H., Tait, E.D., Wilson, E.H., Gregg, B., Ng, L.G., Mrass, P., Roos, D.S., Dzierszinski, F., Weninger, W., et al. (2009). Dynamic Imaging of CD8(+) T cells and dendritic cells during infection with Toxoplasma gondii. PLoS Pathog 5, e1000505.

Ng, L.G., Mrass, P., Kinjyo, I., Reiner, S.L., and Weninger, W. (2008a). Two-photon imaging of effector T-cell behavior: lessons from a tumor model. Immunol Rev 221, 147-162.

Acharya, P.S., Majumdar, S., Jacob, M., Hayden, J., Mrass, P., Weninger, W., Assoian, R.K., and Pure, E. (2008). Fibroblast migration is mediated by CD44-dependent TGF{beta} activation. J Cell Sci 121, 1393-1402.

Mrass, P., Kinjyo, I., Ng, L.G., Reiner, S.L., Pure, E., and Weninger, W. (2008). CD44 mediates successful interstitial navigation by killer T cells and enables efficient antitumor immunity. Immunity 29, 971-985.

Ng, L.G., Hsu, A., Mandell, M.A., Roediger, B., Hoeller, C., Mrass, P., Iparraguirre, A., Cavanagh, L.L., Triccas, J.A., Beverley, S.M., et al. (2008b). Migratory dermal dendritic cells act as rapid sensors of protozoan parasites. PLoS Pathog 4, e1000222.

Wallace, A., Kapoor, V., Sun, J., Mrass, P., Weninger, W., Heitjan, D.F., June, C., Kaiser, L.R., Ling, L.E., and Albelda, S.M. (2008). Transforming growth factor-beta receptor blockade augments the effectiveness of adoptive T-cell therapy of established solid cancers. Clin Cancer Res 14, 3966-3974.

Ballaun, C., Karner, S., Mrass, P., Mildner, M., Buchberger, M., Bach, J., Ban, J., Harant, H., Tschachler, E., and Eckhart, L. (2008). Transcription of the caspase-14 gene in human epidermal keratinocytes requires AP-1 and NFkappaB. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 371, 261-266.

Eckhart, L., Schmidt, M., Mildner, M., Mlitz, V., Abtin, A., Ballaun, C., Fischer, H., Mrass, P., and Tschachler, E. (2008). Histidase expression in human epidermal keratinocytes: regulation by differentiation status and all-trans retinoic acid. J Dermatol Sci 50, 209-215.

Chang, J.T., Palanivel, V.R., Kinjyo, I., Schambach, F., Intlekofer, A.M., Banerjee, A., Longworth, S.A., Vinup, K.E., Mrass, P., Oliaro, J., et al. (2007). Asymmetric T lymphocyte division in the initiation of adaptive immune responses. Science 315, 1687-1691.

Gruber, F., Oskolkova, O., Leitner, A., Mildner, M., Mlitz, V., Lengauer, B., Kadl, A., Mrass, P., Kronke, G., Binder, B.R., et al. (2007). Photooxidation generates biologically active phospholipids that induce heme oxygenase-1 in skin cells. J Biol Chem 282, 16934-16941.

Mrass, P., Takano, H., Ng, L.G., Daxini, S., Lasaro, M.O., Iparraguirre, A., Cavanagh, L.L., von Andrian, U.H., Ertl, H.C., Haydon, P.G., et al. (2006). Random migration precedes stable target cell interactions of tumor-infiltrating T cells. J Exp Med 203, 2749-2761.

Mrass, P., and Weninger, W. (2006). Immune cell migration as a means to control immune privilege: lessons from the CNS and tumors. Immunol Rev 213, 195-212.

Fukunaga-Kalabis, M., Martinez, G., Liu, Z.J., Kalabis, J., Mrass, P., Weninger, W., Firth, S.M., Planque, N., Perbal, B., and Herlyn, M. (2006). CCN3 controls 3D spatial localization of melanocytes in the human skin through DDR1. J Cell Biol 175, 563-569.

Mrass, P., Rendl, M., Mildner, M., Gruber, F., Lengauer, B., Ballaun, C., Eckhart, L., and Tschachler, E. (2004). Retinoic acid increases the expression of p53 and proapoptotic caspases and sensitizes keratinocytes to apoptosis: a possible explanation for tumor preventive action of retinoids. Cancer Res 64, 6542-6548.

Rendl, M., Ban, J., Mrass, P., Mayer, C., Lengauer, B., Eckhart, L., Declerq, W., and Tschachler, E. (2002). Caspase-14 expression by epidermal keratinocytes is regulated by retinoids in a differentiation-associated manner. J Invest Dermatol 119, 1150-1155.

Frossard, M., Joukhadar, C., Erovic, B.M., Dittrich, P., Mrass, P.E., Van Houte, M., Burgmann, H., Georgopoulos, A., and Muller, M. (2000). Distribution and antimicrobial activity of fosfomycin in the interstitial fluid of human soft tissues. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 44, 2728-2732.


Inflammation is a protective biological response against pathogens and other harmful stimuli. Nevertheless, excessive or inappropriate inflammation can exacerbate or cause various diseases, such as infection, autoimmunity and cancer. A better understanding of the underlying mechanisms is needed for the design of improved therapies for pathogenic inflammation.

A key component of inflammation is the coordinated recruitment of immune cells, including neutrophils and T cells. The main focus of the Mrass lab is to analyze the behavior of CD8+ effector T cells directly within peripheral sites of inflammation, using cutting-edge imaging technology. We are currently using mouse models to visualize T cell migration and interaction in situ during sterile lung inflammation or infection with influenza virus.

We are also in the process of setting up a murine model of lung cancer to perform in situ imaging of tumor-infitlrating T cells. These studies provide novel insights into the molecular pathways (cytoskeleton, adhesion receptors) that enable effective T cell migration, positioning and interaction within the inflamed microenvironment.