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 immune function: O-GlcNAc glycosylation

Villadangos Group

O-GlcNAc glycosylation involves addition of a single sugar, β-N-acetylglucosamine, to serine or threonine residues of nuclear or cytoplasmic proteins. This unique type of glycosylation links nutrient sensing, metabolism and immune cell function. The addition and removal of O-GlcNAc is catalysed by O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) and O-GlcNAse (OGA) respectively. O-GlcNAc glycosylation also occurs in dynamic interplay with phosphorylation. The cross-talk between these two modifications in turn regulates many cellular processes. However, little is known about how O-GlcNAc glycosylation regulates immune cell development and function.

In this project we will characterise the function of O-GlcNAc glycosylation in dendritic cells (DCs), immune cells that play a critical role in immunity against infection and cancer. We will identify patterns of protein glycosylation in DCs during different metabolic states and upon encountering pathogens. The function of glycosylated proteins will be further studied to understand the relevance of their O-GlcNAc status in DC development and function, including DC migration within lymphoid organ, the generation of effective T- and B-cell responses and the generation of effective immunity against pathogens and cancer. These studies may allow us to design therapeutic drugs that target O-GlcNAc glycosylation to manipulate immune responses against pathogens or cancer.



Prof Jose Villadangos

Dr Adam Balic

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Prof 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 characterizing 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.


All our projects are open to Honours/Master of Biomedical Science students and PhD/MPhil graduate researchers

Villadangos Group Current Projects