PhD; MRes; BSc
Mechanisms of viral control through IFITM3 and Antigen Presentation
My research focusses on a membrane protein called Interferon-induced transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3) which is important in the restriction and control of several viruses, including Influenza virus, Dengue virus, Hanta virus, Hepatitis C virus and Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The mechanism for viral restriction by IFITM3 is unknown but it is thought that IFITM3 can prevent the release of the viral genome from the endocytic compartment into the cytosol, a necessary step for viral replication. A mutation in the DNA of IFITM3 can lead to faster progression to AIDS or liver cirrhosis in HIV and Hepatitis C infections, respectively, as well as increasing the severity of influenza in patients with this mutation. This is despite of the fact that this single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs12252, has no effect on the protein sequence of IFITM3.
I am working to characterise IFITM3 further by confirming its expression pattern and location within cells. Determining whether this can be altered due to interferon concentration or type, as well as following infection with influenza. With more knowledge of the IFITM3 protein we hope to learn how it functions in viral restriction and why the SNP rs12252 has such a large influence on the severity of viral infections.
In addition, I am investigating the influence of viral mutation on antigen presentation and processing for efficient T cell activation. Particularly for SARS-CoV-2 virus where we have evidence of strong T cell responses the several epitopes.
Prior to joinig the University of Oxford, I graduated from the University of Bristol with a BSc in Cancer Biology & Immunology, before completing an integrated PhD (MRes and PhD combined) in Cancer sciences at the University of Southampton.
In addition to my research I like to take an active role in public engagement and inspiring the next generation of young scientists. Within my role as a STEM ambassador I regularly speak with school children about life as a scientist as well as organising and taking part in activities to get the public excited about research.
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Makvandi-Nejad S. et al, (2018), The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 217, 257 - 262