Molecular Immunology; Drakesmith Group

Almost all forms of life require iron. Generation of energy, DNA synthesis and oxygen carriage are iron-dependent in the majority of organisms from bacteria to humans (see figure 1). Because of this requirement for iron, during infection pathogens must acquire iron from their host in order to grow and spread, and the host can defend itself by denying iron to the invader. Alterations in iron transport during infections are well characterized (eg many infections lead to anaemia) and important (changes in iron status correlate with mortality in AIDS), but are poorly understood at the molecular level. The two aims of our lab are to first define how different pathogenic infections lead to changes in host iron transport, and second to test whether by deliberately intervening in iron metabolism, we can slow the growth of microbes and give the other arms of the immune system time to mobilize.

Figure 1:

Figure 1