The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

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


Research Projects

Project: MR1 – a molecular alarm system for intracellular bacterial infection

Villadangos Group

MR1 functions as a molecular alarm system to alert the immune system that a bacterial infection is taking place. It does this by capturing metabolite by-products from bacteria and presenting them at the cell surface to activate a highly abundant T cell subset, called mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells. MR1 is a highly conserved piece of the mammalian immune repertoire to detect bacterial pathogens, yet basic aspects of its cell biology are not well understood. This project will investigate the molecular machinery underpinning the biology of MR1 molecules, using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing and cutting-edge cell biology and biochemistry techniques. 

Further reading: HEG McWilliam et al (2016), Nat. Immunol. 17: 531-537; HEG McWilliam et al (2017), Trends Immunol 38: 679-689. 

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Prof Jose Villadangos 

Project Co-supervisor

Dr Hamish McWilliam

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