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Transgenerational influence of diet on autoimmune susceptibility

PhD project

The development of autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes (T1D) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is highly dependent on the genetic susceptibility alleles that are inherited. However, it is clear that environmental factors also play critical roles. Exposure to cues, such as diet, can influence the development of autoimmunity in at-risk individuals. Dietary factors can have direct effects on the immune cells of the body, or indirectly via influences on the microorganisms in the gut.

While it is not difficult to envisage how an environmental factor can have a direct effect on at-risk individuals, evidence suggest that such cues may also influence autoimmune susceptibility at transgenerational level. That is, the exposure of parent to an environmental factor then affects the susceptibility of their offspring.

The goal of this project is to determine whether diet does indeed have a transgenerational impact in mouse models of T1D and SLE. In particular, this project will focus on the impact of the diet of male parents. This is because diet is thought to affect the small regulatory RNAs that are loaded into maturing sperm. These molecules have the potential to be transmitted upon fertilization of the ovum, where they may influence the gene regulatory landscape of the early embryo.

Supervised by:

  • A/Prof Mark Chong
  • Disease Focus:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Research Unit:

  • Genomics & immunology
  • For further information about this project, contact: [email protected]