Mycobacterial Research Programme

Lab head: Dr Bernadette Saunders
Location: Centenary Institute

Macrophages, MicroRNAs and Resistance to TB infection

Primary supervisor: Bernadette Saunders

Tuberculosis (TB) is an enormous global health problem, every 20 seconds someone dies of TB globally. Our group is investigating how the host controls TB infection, in particular how macrophages kill the bacteria and control inflammation. The natural host cell for TB is the macrophage. This project will examine the response of human macrophages to TB and BCG infection. In particular how TB infection modulates microRNA expression and the role of specific microRNA, in regulating immunity during TB infection.

We have recently shown that infection of human macrophages with TB or the vaccine strain M. bovis BCG markedly increases the expression of microRNAs within the macrophages. We will expand these studies and examine the response of lung and monocyte derived macrophages to infection. We will examine the effect of silencing specific microRNA on the control of bacterial infection in these macrophages. We will look at the cellular and molecular changes in and how this modifies the capacity to control TB infection.

This project will give an honours student experience in both cellular and molecular techniques; including, isolation and growth of human macrophages, measurement and analysis of cell activation through; Microscopy, Flow cytometry, ELISA, biological assays measuring macrophage activation and molecular biology tools including QRT-PCR, arrays and miRNA silencing.


Dr Bernadette Saunders, Centenary Institute                                          


Discipline: Infectious diseases and Immunology
Keywords: Macrophages, micro-RNAs, Tuberculosis