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Nelson Gekara Lab

Research group We study the mechanisms by which the immune system is regulated and the effects of such mechanisms on disease.

The immune system is essential for pathogen clearance and tissue healing but require strict regulation to avert self-destruction. Our research aims to understand the mechanisms by which the immune system is regulated and the impact of such mechanisms on infections and inflammatory diseases and cancer.​​
 

Focus on immune regulation

The innate immune system provides the first line of defense against microbes and other foreign substances. Innate immune detections of and responsiveness to microbes is mediated by sets of receptors known as pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). PRRs include Toll-like receptors (TLRs), found on the cell surface or endosomal compartments and intracellular receptors such as NOD-like receptors (NLRs) and RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs) cytoplasmic DNA sensors. Activation of PRRs results in the production of a large set of proinflammatory cytokines and type I interferons (IFNs), which act concertedly to coordinate host defenses against foreign invasion. Although meant to protect the host, excessive or deregulated induction of these innate immune responses, can lead to self-injury (e.g. during sepsis or autoimmune diseases). Therefore, in order to maintain an optimal balance between anti-microbial host defenses and protection from self-harm, PRR signaling pathways must be regulated tightly. We are interested in understanding the mechanisms that govern the regulation of PRRs signaling pathways and how the breakdown of such regulation may lead to inflammation or impair anti-microbial host defenses. In particular, we are interested in how DNA damage and the ubiquitin system modulate inflammatory responses.

Methods

In vivo mouse models of inflammation and infections (bacteria and viruses). In vitro studies using a variety of techniques including flow cytometry, microscopy, lentiviral transduction, mass spectrometry, cell culture, protein biochemistry, and cell/molecular biology techniques.

Head of research

Overview

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Clinical Microbiology

Research area

Infection biology