The project Systems biology of phagosome formation and maturation - modulation by intracellular pathogens (PHAGOSYS) is funded under the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union, grant agreement no. HEALTH-F4-2008-223451. The project ultimately aims to find new interventions that promote clearance of intracellular bacteria by phagocytic cells, and so boost innate immunity. More precisely we aim to develop, analyse and verify models of phagocytosis, which is the process by which specialized cells of our immune system bind, engulf, and destroy bacteria, such as mycobacteria and Salmonella, and inert particles. Phagocytosis is a spatio-temporally defined multistep process including ligand-receptor binding, signalling to the cell's cytoskeleton for engulfment, and membrane fusion. A quantitative, systems-based approach to bacterial uptake is essential in order to understand better how intracellular pathogens establish their niche within host cells, particularly in macrophages.
To address this topic we have assembled a consortium of European experts able to tackle complementary aspects of this problem.
- Leiden University Medical Centre, The Netherlands
- The Netherlands Cancer Institute/Antoni van Leeuwenhoekhuis, The Netherlands
- Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Germany
- Max Planck Institute for Cell Biology and Genetics, Germany
- Jozef Stefan Institute, Slovena
The members of the PHAGOSYS consortium are all experienced in multinational collaboration in their respective fields, and are composed of European and major national or regional Centres of Research and Universities or Higher Education institutions with an established expertise in cell biology, microbiology, immunology, molecular biology, mathematical modelling and systems biology.
At Imperial College London it involves experimental cell biologists Vania Braga and Emmanuelle Caron, experimental microbiologist specializing in mycobacteria Brian Robertson and mathematicians Vahid Shahrezaei and Jaroslav Stark. The project is integrated into the activities of the BBSRC/EPSRC funded Centre for Integrated Systems Biology at Imperial College (CISBIC) and is based in the Flowers Building located in South Kensington.