Viral Immunopathology Unit

Lab head: Professor Nicholas King
Location: Blackburn Building, Camperdown

Research conducted by this unit focuses on the immunobiology of cell membrane surfaces, with particular emphasis being placed on studying the processes which control cell membrane architecture and the modulation of cell surface molecules (specifically, those which are involved in immune cell interactions). Much of the work carried out in this laboratory concerns the flavivirus, West Nile Virus, which curiously brings about an increase in major histocompatibility, as well as increased antigen and adhesion molecule expression in mammalian cells following infection. For a virus, this is a seemingly suicidal action, because this increases the efficiency of the adaptive immune response. However it is clear that the adaptive immune response contributes to the pathogenesis of disease; that is, the anti-viral immune response causes immunopathology.

The role of microparticles in the immune response to WNV

Primary supervisor: Nicholas King

Recent research shows that endothelial and other cells can produce small membrane vesicles or microparticles (MP) in response to inflammatory conditions. MP may worsen disease, but they may also be instrumental in enabling the efficient initiation and/or modulation of the immune response to infectious agents, for example, by interacting with dendritic cells. This project will investigate the production of MP by WNV-infected cells in vitro and in vivo. It will investigate when such particles are produced, what effect they have on other uninfected cells and if they can enhance the initiation of immune response in infected animals.

Discipline: Pathology
Co-supervisors: Georges Grau
Contact: Email Nicholas King