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Biography

Dr Gloria Lopez Castejon holds a degree on Biochemistry by the University of Murcia (Spain). She obtained her PhD in Immunology (2007) at the same university, investigating the mechannisms of Interleukin-1β release in teleost fish. After that she moved to Manchester were she focused her research on the study of the purinergic receptor P2X7 and the activation of the inflamamsome complex in macrophages. In 2013 she joined the Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research (MCCIR) as an MCCIR Prize Postdoctoral fellow to further investigate mechanisms of inflammasome activation. In 2015 she was awarded the Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale fellowship to investigate new roles of deubiquitination in the inflammatory response. 

Research interests

MOLECULAR MECHANISMS OF INFLAMMATION

Inflammation is the response of the body to infection or injury. It is initiated when immune cells sense the presence of danger to remove the threat and release pro-inflammatory molecules to alert other cells of the unusual situation. Inflammation is a beneficial process to remove an infection (bacteria or virus). However inflammation can be detrimental when it becomes chronic or is induced by signals that come from within our bodies (i.e. molecules that in healthy conditions should not be present outside of cells, such as cholesterol crystals found in atherosclerosis). The incidence of pathologies with a strong inflammatory component such as atherosclerosis, arthritis, Alzheimer or cancer has seriously increased in recent years and novel and innovative treatments are urgently required.

Our research investigates how inflammation is controlled by immune cells such as macrophages to better understand how these can switch inflammation on and off. This knowledge will contribute to the design new specific drugs to block the inflammatory process, leading to the development of effective and novel anti-inflammatory therapies.

What we do

We study the regulation of the inflammasome. This is a molecular complex assembled by immune cells in response to danger signals of both pathogenic (bacteria, virus) and non-pathogenic (i.e. extracellular ATP, cholesterol crystals) origin.  This process is crucial for the release of potent pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1β or interleukin-18 and to mount an appropriate inflammatory response.  Its deregulation can have serious consequences for health and mutations in some of the components that form this complex cause inflammatory periodic syndromes known as CAPs (Cryopyrin Associated Periodic syndromes)  

Our research focus in two main areas:

1.     Molecular mechanisms that govern inflammasome activation. We have shown that deubiquitinases (DUBs), enzymes that remove ubiquitin from proteins, are required for the assembly and activation of the inflammasome. We are currently investigating how post-translational modifications such as ubiquitination, regulate the assembly of this complex and the role that danger signals play in this process.

2.     Novel functions of the inflamamsome. In addition to the release of inflammatory cytokines, inflammasome activation triggers a process of cell death known as pyroptosis. It has been recently described that pyroptosis leads to the release of protein aggregates that alert other cells to expand inflammation. We are currently investigating novel ways by which the inflammasome contribute to inflammation both intra and extracellularly.

 

We welcome enthusiastic, motivated and talented people, at all career stages, to join our lab. 

 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Lydia Becker Institute

Keywords

  • Inflammation
  • inflammasome
  • macrophages
  • Deubiquitinases
  • P2X7R
  • danger signals

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