Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Infectious Disease

Advanced Research Fellow



+44 (0)20 7594 3072t.thurston




2.40Flowers buildingSouth Kensington Campus




Bacterial-mediated regulation of host cell signalling

When mounting an immune response against pathogens, host cells undergo significant changes in gene expression. A key aim of the laboratory is to understand how bacterial virulence proteins alter this response, dampening host immunity and promoting the pathogen. We therefore use a combination of biochemistry, proteomics and CRISPR technology to investigate the points of intersection between host cell signalling and pathogen virulence factors.

GtgA scheme

Activity of the Salmonella effector GtgA

Host responses to bacterial pathogens

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TRIM proteins represent a family of E3 ubiquitin ligases with a variety of functions in the resistance to pathogens, including pathogen recognition and the regulation of immune signal transduction and transcription factor activation. Our aim is to further our understanding on the role of TRIM family members during infection of immune cells by intracellular pathogens.


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We employ a broad range of techniques to explore the protein-protein interactions that govern the outcome of bacterial infections. These include immuno-precipitation and mass spectrometry experiments to identify novel protein interactions, proteomics to explore protein post-translational modifications and reporter-based assays to investigate novel functions of bacterial proteins. We combine this with the powerful technique of CRISPR to generate gene knockouts, studying which genes are required for host immunity and the restriction of bacterial pathogens. 

Immuno-fluorescence microscopy

Seeing is believing. We use fixed and live cell imaging to visualise bacterial infections at the single cell level and over time. 


Salmonella infected MEF cell. Lamp1-red, Salmonella-green, DNA-blue


The bacterial effector GtgA in complex with its host target, p65

Structural studies

In collaboration with the Rittinger Lab at the Crick Institute, we employ X-ray crystallography in order to understand the molecular determinants of bacterial effector protein function and their interactions with host targets.



Prof. Denise Monack, Stanford University, Salmonella persistence in vivo, 2018

Prof. Steven Ley, Imperial College London, Innate immune signaling, 2017

Katrin Rittinger, The Crick Institute, Molecular Structure of Cell Signalling, 2016

Guest Lectures

Innate Immune Inhibition by Salmonella effector proteins, Crick - Dundee signalling symposium, The Crick Institute, 2017

Galectin-8 catches cytosol-invading Salmonella, EMBO workshop, Mandelieu-la-Napoule, France, 2016

Host pathogen interactions and cell-autonomous immunity, University of Dundee, Dundee, 2014

Research Student Supervision

Guenster,R, Functional analysis of the SseK family of Salmonella SPI-2 type III secretion system effectors (PhD)

Jennings,E, Salmonella-mediated inhibition of innate immunity (PhD)

Ong,S, Regulation of AP1 by Salmonella

Panagi,I, Salmonella effector function and immune signaling

Tedros,Y, Investigating Trim32 interactions partners

Wong,S, Monitoring cytosolic Salmonella