The University of Oxford Immunology Network runs an annual symposium in collaboration with the British Society for Immunology's Oxford Immunology Group. This year’s virtual event was held from 20-22nd April and featured keynote speakers Professor Judi Allen (University of Manchester), Professor Annette Oxenius (ETH Zurich) and Dr John Wherry (University of Pennsylvania).
Ludwig Oxford’s Dr Pedro Moura Alves gave a talk on his work on the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) in the context of bacterial infection. During infection, bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa use a cell-to-cell signalling system called quorum sensing to communicate and modify their behaviour as a collective population. Quorum sensing is mediated by diffusible chemicals released by bacteria.
Pedro discovered that the AhR can detect a range of quorum sensing molecules and influence the body’s immune response. This allows the body to respond appropriately to the stage of bacterial infection and not spend unnecessary energy on immune responses if bacterial levels are below the threshold of causing harm.