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 monocyte/dendritic cells in initiating WNV immune responses.

Primary supervisor: Nicholas King

We are also looking at the induction of the immune response via the skin where WNV gains its first access in vivo. As in the vagina (see above), large numbers of cells infiltrate into the focus of virus infection in the skin surrounding the area of infection. In our model, we have shown that immature monocytes come from the bone marrow via the blood and turn into dendritic cells (DC) locally. These immature cells are highly inflammatory and have attributes of inflammatory macrophages. Our question is, do these cells migrate to the draining lymph nodes and take part in the iinitiation of the immune response there, or are they a new type of DC that specifically wall off the infection to prevent its spread to the lymph node? There is significant scope for collaboration with the project below to see if microparticles enhance the initiation of the immune response by DC.

Discipline: Pathology