Kafatos:Upton, Leanna

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Leanna Upton

(previously Leanna Jones)

Division of Cell & Molecular Biology
South Kensington Campus, SAF
London, SW72AZ


I am a PhD student in the Kafatos/Christophides Lab at Imperial College, London

Research Interests

  • Innate immunity in mosquitoes
  • Vector-borne disease, especially malaria

A novel mosquito-specific family of proteins containing leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domains was recently identified in Anopheles gambiae, the major human malaria vector. LRR proteins have known roles in immunity in many phyla. To date, 24 members of the LRR immune protein (LRIM) family have been identified in A. gambiae. Orthologues of most LRIMs and additional homologous proteins were discovered in the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Culex pipiens but not in other organisms. Typical LRIM proteins comprise of a signal peptide, LRR motifs, a coiled-coil domain and a conserved pattern of cysteine residues. There are four subfamilies of LRIMs: long (10 or more LRRs), short (6-7 LRRs), transmembrane and coil-less (lacking a coiled-coil domain). The founding LRIMs in A. gambiae, LRIM1 and APL1C, play a broad role in innate immunity and are potent antagonists of the rodent malaria parasite, Plasmodium berghei. My project aims to characterise the LRIM family in A. gambiae and establish its roles in innate immunity, including pathogen recognition.


  • M.Res, Biochemical Research, Imperial College London
  • MBiol, University of Bath


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