Research Biographies

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Principal Investigator

Julia Dorin

Contact Details

E-mail address:

Address: MRC / University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research, Queen's Medical Research Institute, W2.05,
47 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 4TJ
Research Programme: Immune Modulation and Regulation of Inflammation




Research in a Nutshell

Currently I am working on a multigene family of antimicrobial peptides called β-defensins which are astonishingly potent against yeast, bacteria and viruses and recognised as major players in innate immunity and yet deletion of these genes results in novel and exciting phenotypes. They are expressed at mucosal surfaces when induced but are highly expressed normally in male and female reproductive tract. I have shown that these molecules are both important in protection from infection and in immune modulation in vitro and in vivo. I have recently developed single gene, clade specific and whole locus deletions of these genes to reveal their full in vivo functional repertoire. I have recently published (Zhou et al 2013) the profound male infertility phenotype we observe when a subset of defensin genes are deleted and reveal a novel function of these genes in sperm maturation and control of calcium influx into sperm cells. This cluster of β-defensins in human (but not in mouse) is highly copy number variable (varies between 1 and 16 in human populations). Deletion of the whole 31 gene locus in the mouse is revealing a diverse series of inflammatory phenotypes and I am investigating their relevance to human disease.


Julia Dorin: Defensins – our natural antibiotics: Research in a nutshell video