The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

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


Research Projects

Project: Dissecting antigen presenting cell subsets and cytokines responding to TLR agonists for MAIT cell activation

McCluskey group

We recently demonstrated that antigen in combination with various individual TLR agonists can strongly stimulate MAIT cell activation, recapitulating the marked response seen in bacterial infection. MAIT cells are polarized to distinct functional phenotypes in different infections or vaccination schemes (Wang et al. Nature Communications 2018, Science Immunology 2019). It is of high interest to dissect the antigen presenting cell subsets, TLR induced-cytokines involved in this response and polarization. The findings will be important to develop precise MAIT cell-based immunotherapies towards various infections.

Specific procedures have been established in the lab and student will immunize mice with representative TLR agonists in combination of MAIT cell activating ligand 5-OP-RU. Flow cytometry (including cell sorting) will be performed on APC cell subsets and MAIT cells. Cytokine profiling of those sorted cells will be carried out to determine which APC cell subset(s) mediates MAIT cell activation and by which cytokine(s). Gene ko mice or complementary (adding back) experiments will be performed to confirm the above findings.

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Dr Zhenjun Chen

Project Co-supervisor

Dr Huimeng Wang

Dr Alexandra Corbett

Project availability
Master of Biomedical Science

McCluskey group

4 vacancies

Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections
Host Pathogens Interactions
Cross Cutting Disciplines
Discovery Research
Translational and Clinical Research

The McCluskey group is an internationally-leading laboratory in mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cell research, having made significant breakthrough discoveries in MAIT cell immunity. These include identifying the antigens recognised by MAIT cells and the associated development of tetramers to characterise MAIT cells (patented). The McCluskey group has also developed human in vitro and in vivo models to understand MAIT cell function and the role of MAIT cells as part of the immune system. In addition, the group has deep expertise in biochemistry, including MAIT cell ligand discovery by mass spectrometry and cellular immunology, allowing to comprehensively address big picture research questions.