2015 Funding Round - Emerging Researcher First Grant

Dr James Ussher
University of Otago, Dunedin
Mucosal associated invariant T cells: mechanisms of bacterial control in humans
36 months

Lay summary

Mucosal associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are an abundant anti-bacterial innate immune cell subset. They are positioned in tissues, such as gut and liver, where they can rapidly respond to invading bacteria. Previous studies suggest that MAIT cells play an important and non-redundant role in protecting against bacterial infection. However, the mechanisms by which MAIT cells control bacterial infection are unknown. This study will use next generation RNA sequencing to identify the full range of anti-bacterial effector functions of human MAIT cells. Using in vitro assays, we will then determine which effector functions are important for controlling bacterial growth. Finally, we will investigate how MAIT cells interact with neutrophils, another abundant anti-bacterial innate immune cell subset, to control infection. An understanding of how MAIT cells control infection will inform the future development of novel MAIT cell-based strategies to prevent or treat bacterial infection.

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