Profile photo Suzan Rooijakkers

Suzan Rooijakkers

Full Professor

Strategic program(s):


The goal of the research of Suzan Rooijakkers is to unravel the molecular mechanisms underlying bacterial killing by the human immune system. In particular, she investigates the molecular functioning of the complement system, a large protein network in plasma that plays an essential role in the immune response against all invading bacteria. Complement rapidly labels bacteria for phagocytosis by immune cells and directly kills Gram-negative bacteria via pore formation (Membrane Attack Complex (MAC)). Although the MAC is an evolutionary conserved mechanism to kill bacterial cells, we currently do not understand how complement activation results in bacterial killing. In 2015, she obtained the prestigious ERC Starting grant that is aimed at providing insight into these bacterial killing mechanisms. She has recently established novel methods to study complement activation in highly purified model systems allowing us to provide insight into MAC-dependent killing of bacteria.

Other projects in the lab involve unravelling processes underlying complement-mediated phagocytosis. Complement is essential in immune eradication of Gram-positive bacteria. She aims to elucidate the molecular details of complement opsonin-receptor interactions . The work will pave the way for several therapeutic applications, including targeted complement-dependent bacterial killing and antibody therapy of clinically important bacteria. Furthermore, her studies will create new avenues for blocking the undesired complement activation during systemic bacterial infections and sepsis.

Research groups

Bacterial infections & immunity

Research aim

To contribute to development of anti-bacterial immunotherapies by providing a scientific understanding of the mechanisms by which antibodies and complement induce bacterial immune clearance.

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Recent publications

Human IgG Fc-engineering for enhanced plasma half-life, mucosal distribution and killing of cancer cells and bacteria Stian Foss, Siri A Sakya, Leire Aguinagalde, Marta Lustig, Jutamas Shaughnessy, Ana Rita Cruz, Lisette Scheepmaker, Line Mathiesen, Fulgencio Ruso-Julve, Aina Karen Anthi, Torleif Tollefsrud Gjølberg, Simone Mester, Malin Bern, Mitchell Evers, Diane B Bratlie, Terje E Michaelsen, Tilman Schlothauer, Devin Sok, Jayanta Bhattacharya, Jeanette Leusen, Thomas Valerius, Sanjay Ram, Suzan H M Rooijakkers, Inger Sandlie, Jan Terje Andersen
Nature Communications, 2024, vol. 15
Inhibition of cleavage of human complement component C5 and the R885H C5 variant by two distinct high affinity anti-C5 nanobodies Eva M Struijf, Karla I De la O Becerra, Maartje Ruyken, Carla J C de Haas, Fleur van Oosterom, Danique Y Siere, Joanne E van Keulen, Dani A C Heesterbeek, Edward Dolk, Raimond Heukers, Bart W Bardoel, Piet Gros, Suzan H M Rooijakkers
The Journal of biological chemistry, 2023, vol. 299
Promoting Fc-Fc interactions between anti-capsular antibodies provides strong immune protection against Streptococcus pneumoniae. Leire Aguinagalde Salazar, Maurits A den Boer, Suzanne M Castenmiller, Seline A Zwarthoff, Carla de Haas, Piet C Aerts, Frank J Beurskens, Janine Schuurman, Albert J R Heck, Kok van Kessel, Suzan H M Rooijakkers
eLife, 2023, vol. 12
Purified complement C3b triggers phagocytosis and activation of human neutrophils via complement receptor 1 Elena Boero, Ronald D. Gorham, Emmet A. Francis, Jonathan Brand, Lay Heng Teng, Dennis J. Doorduijn, Maartje Ruyken, Remy M. Muts, Christian Lehmann, Admar Verschoor, Kok P.M. van Kessel, Volkmar Heinrich, Suzan H.M. Rooijakkers
Scientific Reports, 2023, vol. 13
Monitoring phage-induced lysis of gram-negatives in real time using a fluorescent DNA dye Julia E. Egido, Catherine Toner-Bartelds, Ana Rita Costa, Stan J.J. Brouns, Suzan H.M. Rooijakkers, Bart W. Bardoel, Pieter Jan Haas
Scientific Reports, 2023, vol. 13
Direct Mass Spectrometry-Based Detection and Antibody Sequencing of Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance from Patient Serum Weiwei Peng, Maurits A den Boer, Sem Tamara, Nadia J Mokiem, Sjors P A van der Lans, Albert Bondt, Douwe Schulte, Pieter-Jan Haas, Monique C Minnema, Suzan H M Rooijakkers, Arjan D van Zuilen, Albert J R Heck, Joost Snijder
Journal of Proteome Research, 2023, vol. 22, p.3022-3028

Fellowships & Awards

2016: EMBO Young investigator

2014: Young Investigator award for Excellence in Complement research.

2011: €15.000,- Eppendorf award for Young European Investigators.

2006: €350,- award for excellence in scientific achievement and presentation, XXIst International Complement Workshop, Beijing, China.