Advanced imaging interrogation of pathogen induced NETosis

Advanced imaging interrogation of pathogen induced NETosis

Project details

Neutrophils are the most abundant component of the innate immune system and contribute a vital role in controlling infection. This role includes the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) which contain and destroy invading pathogens extracellularly. Formed of DNA, histones and neutrophil granular proteins, NET formation (NETosis) is now understood to be triggered by multiple pathogens, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis and SARS-CoV-2 the leading causes of bacterial and viral-induced mortality.

Whilst NETs are designed to trap and kill pathogens, their granule-derived components also degrade tissues and cause inflammatory tissue damage. The contribution of pathogen components to differences in NET composition, spatiotemporal behaviours and morphologies associated with protective vs destructive disease outcomes will be investigated using a combination of advanced and super-resolution microscopy, clinical pathogen variants and computational analyses.  

About our research group

The Coussens group is interested in how different pathogens, particularly tuberculosis, HIV and the SARS-CoV-2 virus, interact with cells of the innate immune system, specifically neutrophils and macrophages. We are unraveling the regulation of various cell death pathways and the heterogeneity of cellular responses which we probe with single cell techniques, advanced live cell imaging and analysis.  

This fluorescence microscopy image shows neutrophil nuclei (blue) forming extracellular traps (yellow)
during infection with the bacteria which causes tuberculosis (green). Understanding the morphological
heterogeneity seen here and the bacterial interaction with different neutrophil proteins (red) will form
part of the PhD project.


Email supervisors


Dr Anna Coussens

Dr Anna Coussens in a laboratory
Laboratory Head
Dr George Ashdown
Infectious Diseases and Immune Defence division
Dr Dylan Sheerin
Infectious Diseases and Immune Defence

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