Maintenance of oral epithelial barrier to infection

Research Opportunity
Honours, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
1
Number of Master Places Available
1
Department
Melbourne Dental School
Location
Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute,Royal Dental Hospital Melbourne
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Jacqui Heath jhea@unimelb.edu.au
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
A/Prof Glen Scholz

Summary In this project, you will investigate the role of IL-36γ and a novel protein we have shown to be regulated by IL-36γ, in regulating the molecular mechanisms and processes of barrier function maintenance and EMT, their role in preventing infection, as well as the effect of bacterial exposure (commensals and pathogens) on regulation of these processes.

Project Details

Epithelial surfaces (e.g. skin, oral cavity, gut, lungs) interact directly with the external environment, continuously encountering commensal bacteria as well as potential pathogens. Therefore, mucosal epithelial cells are critical mediators of host defence, acting as a physical barrier against infection. They maintain this essential barrier by undergoing coordinated cycles of cell proliferation and differentiation. During repair of damaged epithelium, epithelial cells at the border of the wound undergo intermediate epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), allowing migration of the cells and remodelling of the tissue, which coincidentally also induces permeability of the barrier. Pathogenic bacteria (e.g. Salmonella typhimurium) have been shown to induce EMT to promote colonization and invasion of mucosal epithelia. Oral pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis has been shown to induce EMT in oral epithelial cells. In addition, we have recently shown that oral epithelial cells respond to P. gingivalis by producing the novel cytokine IL-36γ. Furthermore, we have shown that IL-36γ plays a role in proliferation and differentiation of oral epithelial cells. Therefore, dysregulation of IL-36γ expression by P. gingivalis, may compromise barrier function of the oral mucosa and impair host defence against infection. In this project, you will investigate the role of IL-36γ and a novel protein we have shown to be regulated by IL-36γ, in regulating the molecular mechanisms and processes of barrier function maintenance and EMT, their role in preventing infection, as well as the effect of bacterial exposure (commensals and pathogens) on regulation of these processes. The project will provide students with opportunities to develop skills in bacterial & mammalian cell culture, bacterial-challenge assays, manipulating gene expression, transcriptional regulation, proteomics, immunofluorescence confocal microscopy, critical thinking & project management, scientific writing & oral communication.



Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Oral Infection and Immunity



Research Opportunities

Honours, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department

Melbourne Dental School

Research Node

Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute,Royal Dental Hospital Melbourne

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