Characterisation of a novel cytokine in reproductive tract immune responses to infections

Characterisation of a novel cytokine in reproductive tract immune responses to infections is a Research Project for the Regulation of Interferon and Innate Signalling Research Group, under the Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases.

Project Leaders

macrophage and bacteriaThe team has discovered a new cytokine exclusively expressed in the female reproductive tract, and shown that it is essential for the optimal response to sexually transmitted infections such as herpes simplex virus, chlamydia and HIV. It is unique for several reasons: unlike conventional cytokines, Interferon epsilon is constitutively expressed, especially in the female reproductive tract, is not regulated by pathogens, but is regulated by hormones. This work was published in Science. 2013 Mar 1;339(6123):1088-92.

Current projects involve the team’s unique repertoire of reagents including gene knockout mouse models of the female reproductive tract, as well as recombinant cytokines, antibodies, clinical patient cohorts and primary cell cultures for an ongoing study program that includes the following specific areas to characterise the mechanism whereby this new cytokine regulates the immune response:

  • Molecular Biology – determining the mechanism of regulation of IFNa gene expression,
  • Biochemistry – characterising the mechanism of IFNa interaction with receptors and activation of novel signalling pathways,
  • Immunology – determining how and which immune cells are regulated in the FRT mucosa during infections and other disease.