The Wileman group at the Quadram Institute studies how viruses activate autophagy during cell entry and replication. Autophagy is an important arm of innate immunity to infection, and is a powerful means of removing intracellular pathogens. Impaired autophagy has been linked to Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
We are interested in understanding how autophagy, and a related pathway called LC3-associated phagocytosis, are activated during infection and determining their effects on the outcome of disease. Recent genome wide association screens have identified mutations in autophagy gene called Atg16L1 as a risk allele for Crohn’s disease. We are investigating whether the inflammation seen in Crohn’s disease is caused by defects in the control of microorganisms by autophagy and LC3-associated phagocytosis in gut epithelial cells.