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Mark Banfield

Biological Chemistry Department
Picture of Mark Banfield


Research theme: Structural biology and biochemistry of host/pathogen interactions

The Banfield group primarily investigates molecular interactions at the host:pathogen interface, with a particular focus on effector proteins that are translocated into host cells during infection. These proteins interfere with host cell processes, presumably to the benefit of the pathogen. The group mostly works on proteins from plant pathogens (and their hosts), but retains interests in mammalian host/pathogen systems. We also investigate the molecular basis of host cell adhesion mediated by internal thioester bonds, highly unusual protein cross-links we discovered in pili from gram-positive pathogens.

We greatly benefit from close collaboration with research groups at The Sainsbury Laboratory, on-site at the the John Innes Centre.

In plants, effector proteins can not only have a virulence function (to promote disease) but can also be specifically recognised within plant cells leading to localised cell death (so-called 'avirulence' function as it restricts pathogen growth). The latter function forms part of the plant innate immune system and is a major target for both the breeding and engineering of disease resistance in important crop plants. We use a wide range of experimental approaches to investigate the activity and significance of effector proteins in the outcome of host/pathogen interactions. These approaches include protein structure determination by X-ray crystallography, a variety of other biophysical techniques appropriate to answering relevant biological questions, biochemistry, protein interaction studies (e.g. Y2H and co-IP) and in planta expression of proteins to assess phenotypes/activities.

For further details of past and present activities, group members, facilities, publications, funding etc. please take a look at our Lab website.

Follow on Twitter for up to date news, job opportunities and opinions (my own not JIC's): @mjbanfield

Current Funding

BBSRC, FEBS, Gatsby, Royal Society

John Innes Centre