Research in our group is focused on understanding how microRNAs regulate immune signaling and how pathogens manipulate these processes. To date, this work has centered on herpesviruses, and in particular, cytomegaloviruses. We are currently working with collaborators at the Centre for Immunity, Infection & Evolution to expand this work into other host-pathogen systems, in particular, helminth infections.
MicroRNAs are ~22 nt RNA molecules that regulate eukaryotic gene expression by binding to specific mRNA transcripts, causing the mRNAs to be degraded or causing their translation to be repressed. The majority of human protein-coding genes are under selective pressure to maintain microRNA binding sites in their 3’UTRs and these small RNAs are therefore a ubiquitous and integral component of signaling pathways.
A goal in our lab is to understand how microRNAs manipulation can be used to improve and supplement therapeutic strategies in infectious disease.
A second goal is to use viruses as a tool to identify the post-transcriptional mechanisms controlling microRNA expression. This is an area of research that is relevant to numerous disease processes.
We are a part of the Centre for Immunity, Infection and Evolution and are based in the new wing of the Ashworth laboratories, King’s Buildings.
We are also affiliated with the Division of Pathway Medicine within the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine and work closely with collaborators at the Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. The Centre for Infectious Diseases links investigators in all of these locations within the University.