Dr Borko Amulic

Laboratory of Innate Immunity

The Amulic laboratory investigates the cell biology and immunology of neutrophils.

Vision

Neutrophils are essential immune cells with important roles in defence against pathogens. They rapidly migrate to sites of infection and kill microbes by phagocytosis, ROS production, degranulation and release of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). An absence of neutrophils results in a complete inability of the organism to ward off pathogens. Excessive or dysregulated neutrophil responses, on the other hand, are destructive and contribute to pathology in malaria, autoimmunity and cancer. Mechanisms that fine-tune neutrophil responses are therefore critical for health.

We study how cell cycle and DNA repair proteins regulate neutrophil effector functions. We propose the hypothesis that cell cycle proteins have non-canonical roles in inflammation and that their deregulation leads to dysfunctional neutrophil responses. Our work also aims to elucidate the function of cell cycle factors in post-mitotic cells.

Mission

We want to understand how neutrophils are regulated at the molecular level and to use these insights to interrogate their function in immunity and inflammation. We also aim to develop therapies targeting neutrophils in malaria, a devastating disease that affects millions of people in developing countries.

Approach

Our research spans cell biology and immunology. We use molecular biology techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9 knockout to characterize genes regulating human neutrophil behaviour. We also use various disease models and patient samples to investigate neutrophils in vivo.

One area of focus is mechanism and function of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). NETs consist of extruded chromatin with antimicrobial and immunostimulatory properties. They are released via an active process called NETosis and are proposed to trap microbes as well as signal to the rest of the immune system.

Impact

Our goal is to propose targets for therapies in inflammatory diseases (including malaria, autoimmunity and cancer), as well as to discover ways to boost neutrophil microbicidal activity in settings such as immunodeficiency and antimicrobial resistance.

Funding

Medical Research Council (MRC), Barth Syndrome Foundation

Qualifications and History for Dr Borko Amulic

  • 2009: PhD Cornell University, New York
  • 2010-2012: European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) Fellow, Max Planck Institute, Berlin
  • 2010-2017: Postdoctoral Researcher, Max Planck Institute, Berlin
  • 2018: Lecturer in Immunology, University of Bristol
  • 2018: MRC Research Fellow

Selected Publications

Find further publications in Explore Bristol Research

  • Amulic B and Sollberger G. Mechanism and Function of Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs). The Scientist. Oct 2019.
  • Knackstedt L, A Georgiadou, Apel, U Abu-Abed, C Moxon, A Cunnington, B Raupach, D Cunningham, J Langhorne, R Krüger, V Barrera, S Harding, A Berg, S Patel, K Otterdal, B Mordmüller, E Schwarzer, V Brinkmann, A Zychlinsky and Amulic B. Neutrophil extracellular traps drive inflammatory pathogenesis in malaria. Science Immunology 2019 Oct 18;4(40).
  • Amulic B, Knackstedt SL, Abu Abed U, Deigendesch N, Harbort CJ, Caffrey BE, Brinkmann V, Heppner FL, Hinds PW, Zychlinsky A.: Cell-Cycle Proteins Control Production of Neutrophil Extracellular Traps. Dev Cell. 2017 Nov 20;43(4):449-462.e5.
  • Boström S, Schmiegelow C, Abu Abed U, Minja D, Lusingu J, Brinkmann V, Honkpehedji Y, Loembe MM, Adegnika AA, Mordmüller B, Troye-Blomberg M and Amulic B. Neutrophil alterations in pregnancy associated malaria and induction of neutrophil chemotaxis by Plasmodium falciparumParasite Immunol. 2017 Jun;39(6).
  • Harbort CJ, Soeiro-Pereira PV, von Bernuth H, Kaindl AM, Costa-Carvalho BT, Condino- Neto A, Reichenbach J, Roesler J, Zychlinsky A and Amulic B.: Neutrophil oxidative burst activates ATM to regulate cytokine production and apoptosis. Blood. 2015 Dec 24;126(26):2842-51.
  • Amulic B, Cazalet C, Hayes GL, Metzler KD, Zychlinsky A. Neutrophil function: from mechanisms to disease. Annu Rev Immunol. 2012;30:459-89.
  • Amulic B, Hayes G. Neutrophil extracellular traps. Curr Biol. 2011 May 10;21(9):R297-8.
Borko Amulic_double photo
Top right: Dr Borko Amulic. Bottom right: Our mechanistic study of NET formation was featured on the cover of Dev Cell. Image shows the pathogenic fungus Candida albicans trapped in NETs.
Edit this page