AG - Dr. J. van den Boorn

Dr. Jasper van den Boorn
Institut für Klinische Chemie und Pharmakologie
Universitätsklinikum Bonn
Biomedizinisches Zentrum (Gebäude 344)
1. OG, Raum 020
Sigmund-Freud-Str. 25
53127 Bonn

Tel. Büro: 0228-287-51143
Tel. Labor: 0228-287-51162

Lebenslauf: van_den_Boorn.pdf



With a strong translational focus, our research team investigates fundamental tumor-biological questions, to the benefit of future cancer therapy. Our young research team has a particular interest in the molecular- and cellular immunology of malignant melanoma. Since 2011 several research lines have been set up, in which the cytosolic nucleic acid-sensor RIG-I has a central role.  

RIG-I is found in all nucleated cells of the body, including cancer cells. It plays a major role in our bodily defences against viral infection by recognizing 5’-triphosphate RNA (3pRNA) in the cellular cytosol, the hallmark-determinant of many virus infections. When RIG-I is activated by 3pRNA it induces a strong type-I interferon-response in immune, non-immune and cancer cells, activating an effective immune response to the infected cell. Interestingly, the cancer cells however, are additionally sensitive to undergo programmed cell death (apoptosis) upon RIG-I activation while non-malignant cells are saved from this apoptosis by their expression of the Bcl-xL protein. Thereby, 3pRNA is a tumoricidal agent; it can selectively induce cell death in cancer cells and simultaneously recruit- and activate a specific immune response to these dying cells. In 2009 our Institute has characterized the minimal 3pRNA ligand for RIG-I, which has paved the road for the development of cancer immunotherapies that rely on selective RIG-I activation within the tumor tissue.

In our RIG-I-focussed research, we try to understand how RIG-I expression- and function is regulated within tumor cells and -tissues, and how activation of RIG-I within these tumor cells and -tissues in turn influences their homeostasis. We have the idea that although RIG-I is expressed in tumor cells, alike all other body cells, malignant cells use tricks to limit RIG-I function. By investigating RIG-I’s intratumoral behaviour, we hope to find new ways around these tricks, so that we can strengthen RIG-I’s intratumoral function and use its maximal potency against cancer. 

Besides our RIG-I-based investigations we have a distinct research line that focuses on the skin-depigmenting agent monobenzone. This skin-sensitizing substance is able to trigger an immune response specifically against pigmented cells, including melanoma cells. From previous work we know that monobenzone triggers a comprehensive immune response when continuous applications are used as a basis for melanoma immune therapy. Also, we know that monobenzone-exposed pigmented cells undergo specific changes, which make them better recognizable to the immune system. Nonetheless, the exact immunological mechanism by which monobenzone initiates specific immunity against pigmented cells, remains elusive. Better understanding of this process allows us to optimize monobenzone immunotherapy further and make better use of monobenzone against malignant melanoma.

In our monobenzone-based research, we are thus interested in the exact mechanism by which monobenzone is able to activate immune cells, and instruct them to specifically attack the pigmented cells. Here, the focus lies on cellular immunology, and the characterisation of the crosstalk between specific cellular subsets of the immune system.



Die Vorwahl für das Institut ist +49 (0) 228 - 287 -, dann wählen Sie bitte die Nummer des gewünschten Mitarbeiters.

Name Vorname Titel Funktion Durchwahl e-Mail
Bayrak Kübra   Praktikantin 51150  
Engel Christina   Doktorandin Mol. Biomedizin 51722
Hagen Christian   BTA 51155
Lambing Silke   Doktorandin Mol. Biotechnologie 51722
Marx Samira   Doktorandin Mol. Biomedizin 51155
Mühlenbeck Larissa Helen   Doktorandin Mikrobiologie 51155
Nolting Jens  Dr. med. Assistenzarzt 51937



von links nach rechts:
obere Reihe: Dr. Jasper van den Boorn, Samira Marx, Christian Hagen, Christina Engel
untere Reihe: Larissa Mühlenbeck, Kübra Bayrak, Silke Lambing


Publications in peer-reviewed Journals

1. J.G. van den Boorn and G. Hartmann. Therapeutic tissue regeneration by a macrophage colony-stimulating factor fc conjugate. Mol Ther. 2014, 22(9):1577-9.

2. J.G. van den Boorn, Gunther Hartmann. Turning tumors into vaccines: co-opting the innate immune system. Immunity, 2013, 25;39(1):27-37.

3. J.G. van den Boorn, Juliane Daßler, Christoph Coch, Martin Schlee, Gunther Hartmann. Exosomes as nucleic acid nanocarriers. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, 2013, 65(3): 331-335.

4. J.G. van den Boorn, Winfried Barchet and Gunther Hartmann. Nucleic acid adjuvants: toward an educated vaccine. Advances in Immunology, 2012, 114: 1-32.

5. J.G. van den Boorn, M. Schlee, C. Coch and G. Hartmann. SiRNA delivery with exosome nanoparticles. Nature Biotechnology, 2011, 29(4):325-326.

6. J.G. van den Boorn, Cornelis J. Melief and Rosalie M. Luiten. Monobenzone-induced depigmentation: from enzymatic blockade to autoimmunity. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2011, 24(4): 673-679.

7. J.G. van den Boorn, D.I. Picavet, P.F. van Swieten et al. Skin-depigmenting agent monobenzone induces potent T cell autoimmunity towards pigmented cells by tyrosinase haptenation and melanosome autophagy. J Invest Dermatol, 2011, 131:1240.

8. J.G. van den Boorn, D. Konijnenberg, W. Douwenga et al. Effective melanoma immunotherapy in mice by the skin-depigmenting agent monobenzone and the adjuvants imiquimod and CpG. PLoS One, 2010, 13;5(5):e10626.

9. J.G. van den Boorn, D. Konijnenberg, T.A. Dellemijn et al. Autoimmune Destruction of Skin Melanocytes by Perilesional T Cells from Vitiligo Patients. J Invest Dermatol, 2009, 129: 2220-2232. 

10. Pedro Oyarbide-Valencia, Jasper G. van den Boorn et al. Therapeutic implications of autoimmune vitiligo T cells. Autoimmun Rev, 2006, 5:486-92.

11. J.G. van den Boorn, I. Caroline LePoole and Rosalie M. Luiten. T cell avidity and tuning: the flexible connection between tolerance and autoimmunity. Int Rev Immunol, 2006, 25:235-58. 

12. WW. Overwijk, KE. de Visser, F. Tirion, LA. de Jong, T. Pols, Y. van der Velden, J.G. van den Boorn et al. Immunological and anti-tumor effects of interleukin-23 as a cancer vaccine adjuvant: selective expansion of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells and depletion of bystander T cells. J Immunol, 2006, 176:5213-22. 


Book Chapters

1. M. Schlee, J. Ludwig, C. Coch, J.G. van den Boorn, W. Barchet, G. Hartmann. Synthetic and Natural Ligands of RLR. Nucleic Acid Sensors and Antiviral Immunity. Landes Bioscience, S. Sambhara & T. Fujita ed., 2013.


Other Publications

1. J.G. van den Boorn. Vitiligo Pathogenesis and Immunotherapy of Melanoma. Dissertation, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, July 6th 2010, 182 pages, ISBN: 978-94-90371-22-7 (PDF version accessible via the University of Amsterdam online dissertation repository, under

Stand: 23. November 2015