The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital


Research Projects

Project: A novel link between metabolism and host defence: O-GlcNAc glycosylation

Villadangos Group

O-GlcNAc glycosylation involves addition of a single sugar, β-N-acetylglucosamine, to serine or threonine residues of proteins. It is a unique type of glycosylation found on nuclear and cytoplasmic proteins. The addition and removal of OGlcNAc is catalysed by OGlcNAc transferase (OGT) and OGlcNAse (OGA) respectively. It is a reversible modification akin to phosphorylation. Indeed, OGlcNAc glycosylation occurs in dynamic interplay with phosphorylation, either on the same or adjacent residues. The cross-talk between these two modifications in turn regulates various cellular processes. 

In this project we will characterise the function of OGlcNAc glycosylation in a type of immune cells (Denditic cells, DC) that play a critical role in immunity against infection and cancer. We will identify changes in patterns of glycosylation in different metabolic states and upon encounter of pathogens. The function of glycosylated proteins will be further studied to understand the relevance of their OGlcNAc status in various immune cell activities. Finally, we will characterize how OGT and OGA recognize their substrates and the mechanisms that regulate their function. These studies may allow us to design therapeutic drugs that target O-GlcNAc glycosylation to manipulate immune responses against pathogens or cancer.

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Professor Jose Villadangos

Project Co-supervisor

Dr Adam Balic

Project availability
Master of Biomedical Science

Villadangos Group

6 vacancies

Viral Infectious Diseases
Antimicrobial Resistance
Bacterial and Parasitic Infections
Cross Cutting Disciplines
Discovery Research
Clinical and health systems research

The Villadangos group studies the first event that triggers adaptive immune responses: the presentation of pathogen or tumour antigens to T cells by dendritic cells, B cells and macrophages. We are characterising the development, regulation and impairment of antigen presenting cells by pathogens, inflammatory mediators and tumours. We are also dissecting the biochemical machinery involved in antigen capture, processing and presentation. We use this knowledge to understand how T cell-dependent immunity is initiated and maintained, and apply it to design better vaccines and immunotherapies against infectious agents and cancer.

Villadangos Group Current Projects