Dr Melissa Call

Dr Melissa Call

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Dr Melissa Call in her office

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Dr
Melissa
Call

BSc MSc PhD Auckland

Laboratory Head

My research group, led cooperatively with Associate Professor Matthew Call, investigates how immune cells respond to external cues that control immune responses. Cells are enclosed in a thin fatty membrane. This is essential for compartmentalising chemical processes inside the cell, but poses a formidable barrier to the passage of information between the inside and outside of the cell.

We study the molecular structures and mechanisms used by sensors on the cell surface to pass information across this barrier. We aim to understand these communication pathways and identify new ways to therapeutically manipulate immune responses in cancer, infection and autoimmune diseases.

Research interest

We have a particular focus on how the membrane-embedded portions of receptors contribute to the structure and function of immune-signalling complexes. These are not mere anchors for extracellular and intracellular domains, but in fact provide a unique platform for molecular interactions and represent the only direct physical link between ligand-binding and signalling domains across the cell barrier.

Our lab combines biochemical and biophysical methods (both X-ray crystallography and solution NMR) with cellular and molecular immunology techniques to study the mechanics of transmembrane signalling and the regulation of cell-surface proteins in the immune system. We aim to understand how ligand binding is mechanically communicated across the cell membrane and how the unique physical and chemical properties of the lipid bilayer contribute to signalling. A major portion of our work involves the development of new protein engineering, production and analytical methods to make membrane-embedded protein fragments more accessible to high-resolution structural studies.

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Student research project

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Research into malaria and toxoplasmosis, and the immune response to infection benefits from Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowships program.