Monica Mugnier, Ph.D.
Keywords: Antigenic variation; T. brucei; Kinetoplastid; Host-pathogen interactions; Bioinformatics; Genomics
Research: My laboratory studies antigenic variation in the African trypanosome, Trypanosoma brucei. These deadly parasites evade recognition by the immune systems of the humans and animals they infect by “switching” a dense surface coat made up of a protein known as variant surface glycoprotein, or VSG. T. brucei can extend its repertoire of VSGs beyond those encoded in the genome through recombination events that create new, antigenically distinct variants. This diversification of the VSG repertoire to create new antigen coats is critical for the parasite to maintain a chronic infection. The Mugnier lab uses bioinformatics and other high-throughput approaches to better understand the dynamics of antigenic variation and the mechanisms driving VSG diversification in vivo.
Some questions we are currently studying:
• How does antibody recognize VSG
• What role do extravascular parasites play in antigenic variation and immune evasion?
• How do mosaic VSGs form, and how often?
Publications and Interests: www.mugnierlab.org