Research Interests: Understanding Signalling networks in living cells
The SAInI lab, a clever acronym that stands for Signalling in Ageing, Inflammation and Infection, the three paradigms that our group work on.
Towards understanding aging and inflammation, our lab focuses on a class of receptors known as G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and their roles in the cascade of events which occur when cells grows old aka ‘aged’. Receptors, however, do not work in isolation, and our lab is keenly pursuing the mechanisms by which GPCRs and receptors of other classes, cross paths, a phenomenon known as ‘cross-talk’. We study the ramifications of such cross-talk in the context of a cellular responses in aged cells, which we study using live imaging, pharmacological and gene inactivation and metabolomics profiling approaches. The ongoing work is expected to impact our understanding of events which govern the aged associated inflammation, tissue injury and infection. Our work has allowed us to identify and characterize molecules which regulate DNA damage which leads to aging; initiation and maintenance of aged cells; which regulate age associated inflammation and the intrinsic anti – aging mechanisms which are triggered when cellular insults occur.
Similar to ‘eukaryotic cells’, ‘prokaryotic’ bacterial cells also possess an extensive internal network of connections that direct specific responses to specific stimuli. In this area, our laboratory is interested in one prokaryotic organism in particular, called Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). As the name suggests, this pathogenic micro-organism is responsible for the disease of tuberculosis, currently ranked second in terms of the number of deaths cause by a pathogenic organism worldwide. Our laboratory specifically studies two component signalling (TCS) cascades and have recently reported presence of intricate networking amongst TCS systems in Mtb. These studies have been very novel and help provide insights into the mechanisms by which Mtb manipulates and as a consequence survives inside its host cell. Further work towards understanding the implications of our findings is currently ongoing, which including in vivo analysis of the observed cross talk and development of tools to study these studies in living cells. We expect that the discovered features will improve our understanding of the TB disease process and in future could open up new avenues for targeting this dangerous human pathogen. For prospective students, the SAInI lab offers a view into the dynamics of signalling networks inside live cells, because “Seeing is Believing”.