Investigation into the role of host-pathogen molecular interactions in animal diseases by microscopy and live cell imaging

Lead Research Organisation: The Pirbright Institute
Department Name: Div of Microbiology Compton


Institute for Animal Health (IAH) is a world-leading centre of excellence for research into infectious diseases of livestock. Working on several major pathogens of cattle and poultry, IAH has an excellent infrastructure for studying diseases in their natural hosts. IAH has recently invested heavily on areas such as transcriptome analysis, proteomics and bioinformatics to underpin the research efforts on studying the complex pathogen-host interactions in important diseases of animals. These recent advances have generated a growing requirement within the IAH to get to grips with cell biology, particularly methods allowing the cellular localization of host and pathogen proteins to be determined with precision, using recent advances in Bioimaging techniques.Image analysis by fluorescence microscopy is becoming a powerful tool for visualising the dynamics of intracellular networks and molecular host-pathogen interactions during infection by pathogens. The current proposal is to obtain funds to purchase a new confocal microscope for the Compton Laboratory to undertake research projects in different groups working on various pathogens. Some of the examples of research projects that would benefit from the confocal microscope are (a) Marek's disease in chickens to examine the complex interactions of MDV and host in cell-to-cell spread and the unique ability of the feather follicel epithelium to support cell-free virus production (b) Analysis of the repertoire and function of bacterial Type III secreted effector proteins (c) Host cell invasion of Eimeria tenella (d) dynamics of cell types and interactions in mycobacterial granuloma in cattle (e) Coronavirus-host proteins (f) biology of avian dendritic cells and (g) examining the role of chicken toll-like receptors. Availability of the confocal microscope with facilities for live cell imaging is vital for the success of many of these projects and for the fundamental understanding of the molecular interactions of several pathogens with their natural hosts

Technical Summary

The proposal is to obtain a new confocal microscope with live cell imaging facilities for Compton. This new microscope will be used by multiple research groups looking in the complex host-pathogen interactions in several important animal diseases in their natural hosts. The range of pathogens include viruses such as Marek's disease virus that produce lymphoid tumours, bacterial pathogens such as tuberculosis and food borne pathogens (Salmonella, E. coli), and protozoan parasite Eimeria spp. that causes coccidiosis in poultry. Studying the complex host-pathogen interactions of these pathogens is vital to gain knowledge on their pathogenesis. Furthermore, with the specific interest of the Institute to look into the host, the project will also aim to understand the fundamentals of dendritic cell biology and the role of toll-like receptors, particularly in chicken.


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Description Poultry Health course 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Poultry Health Course is run as a residential and online course to transfer recent advances in avian disease research from the laboratory to the field.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity Pre-2006