Infection, Immunology & Translational Medicine (IITM) Oxford

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Amy Kenyon

Amy Kenyon shares her experience of IITM and tells us what she’s been up to since.

 Amy studied Chemistry and Biochemistry at Rhodes University in South Africa where she obtained a BSc(Hons) followed by an MSc. “Masters in South Africa are only research so [include] a lot of lab experience,” she told us.

Before starting her DPhil in Oxford, which was co-supervised by Tatjana Sauka-Spengler and Vincenzo Cerundolo at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, Amy undertook rotations in the labs of William James and David Greaves.

After her DPhil, Amy did a 1.5 year post doc in the same lab to get the projects she started in her PhD published. Amy told us a bit about her DPhil and current post-doctoral research: “Oncogenic transformation, local tissue damage at a site of injury, or invading pathogens all induce signals resulting in the recruitment of macrophages and neutrophils to the inciting stimulus. My project involved the development of an innovative binary approach in a zebrafish animal model that enabled genome-wide profiling of specific cell types isolated directly from the in vivo context.”

She continued: “The modular system harnesses the power of zebrafish genetics using an in vivo biotinylation system consisting of a zebrafish line ubiquitously expressing a nuclear envelope with an Avi-tag. The Avi-tag is biotinylated by the biotin ligase, BirA, specifically expressed by macrophages and neutrophils, and subsequently the nuclei of these cells types can be isolated by streptavidin affinity purification.”

Amy explained that the model was used to profile the active transcriptome of neutrophils in two disease pathologies, Mycobacterium marinum infection and the earliest stages of melanoma. “For studies of the immune response to M. marinum infection, a granuloma-forming model was optimised, which recapitulates human tuberculosis. Profiling revealed a unique transcriptional signature for neutrophils, characterised by both factors that are host protective and those that may contribute to the pathogenesis of the disease.”

“For studies of melanoma onset, we generated a novel inducible model for melanocyte oncogenic transformation. The model for melanoma onset was crossed to the binary neutrophil-specific in vivo biotinylation model. Profiling of the neutrophils in response to oncogene-transformed melanocytes revealed a neutrophil transcriptional signature consistent with a pleiotropic role for neutrophils at the onset of melanoma.”

So what’s next? Well, Amy told the IITM Communications Team that she will be starting a post-doctoral position in May at Instituto Clinco Humanitas in Milan, Italy.

“We also have an excellent support system that goes beyond our supervisors.”

Amy also reflected on her experience of IITM: “The rotations enable IITM students to get lots of different experience. We also have an excellent support system that goes beyond our supervisors. Opportunities provided by the IITM programme allow us to present our work (eg annual IITM symposium).”

“Make sure you have a lot of lab experience and a clear idea of what your research interests are.”

Finally, she offered some advice to prospective IITM applicants: “Make sure you have a lot of lab experience and a clear idea of what your research interests are.”

Publications from IITM

Kenyon, A, Gavriouchkina, D, Zorman, J, Napolitani, G, Cerundolo, V, Sauka-Spengler T. Active nuclear transcriptome analysis reveals in mechanism for early neutrophil response to Mycobacterium marinum. Under revision Scientific Reports

Kenyon, A, Gavriouchkina, D, Napolitani, G, Cerundolo, V, Sauka-Spengler T. Generation of binary transgenic zebrafish model to study myeloid gene regulation in response to pre-neoplastic melanocytes. Under revision Disease Models & Mechanisms.

Simoes, F*, Kenyon, A*, Gavriouchkina, D, Weinberger, M, V, Sauka-Spengler T*, Riley P*. Nuclear profiling of macrophage response to heart injury reveals essential role in collagen deposition and fibrosis during regenerative process in zebrafish. Manuscript in preparation

Falletta, P, Sanchez-del-Campo, L, Chauhan, J, E_ern, M, Kenyon, A, Kershaw,CJ, Siddaway, R, Lisle, R, Freter, R, Daniels, MJ, Lu, X, Tting, T, Middleton, M, Francesca, M, Bu_a, FM, Willis, AE, Pavitt, G, Ronai ZA., Sauka-Spengler T., Hlzel and Colin R Goding. Translation reprogramming is an evolutionarily conserved driver of phenotypic plasticity and therapeutic resistance in melanoma. Genes and Development. 2017. doi: 10.1101/gad.290940.116. PMID: 28096186

Iqbal AJ, Regan-Komito D, Christou I, White GE, McNeill E, Kenyon A, Taylor L, Kapellos TS, Fisher EA, Channon KM, Greaves DR. A real time chemotaxis as-sayunveils unique migratory profiles amongst di_erent primary murine macrophages. PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58744. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058744. Epub 2013 Mar 14. PMID: 23516549; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3597586.