Our research aims to understand the complex epigenetic circuitry that underlies immune cell function, which should lead to therapies designed to rewire lymphocytes, as new treatments for infection or allergy.

Epigenetic modifications to chromatin may promote immune cell phenotypic stability by influencing the ability of transcription factors to bind to DNA and affecting whether and to what level specific genes are expressed in a cell. However, we are only at the tip of the iceberg in our understanding of how these processes affect lymphocyte fate.

We use a multi-disciplinary approach that combines gene-deficient models, biochemistry and contemporary molecular techniques to develop a fundamental understanding of the chromatin architecture and epigenetic networks that control important steps of immune cell differentiation during development, allergy and infection.


Selected publications from A/Prof Rhys Allan

Chan, W.F., Coughlan, H.D., Ruhle, M., Iannarella, N., Alvarado, C., Groom, J.R., Keenan, C.R., Kueh, A.J., Wheatley, A.K., Smyth, G.K., Allan, R.S. & Johanson, T.M. Survey of activation-induced genome architecture reveals a novel enhancer of Myc. Immunology & Cell Biology 2023. PMID: 36710659

Chan, W.F., Coughlan, H.D., Chen, Y., Keenan, C.R., Smyth, G.K., Perkins, A.C., Johanson, T.M. & Allan, R.S. Activation of stably silenced genes by recruitment of a synthetic de-methylating module. Nature Communications 2022. PMID: 36151095

Chan, W.F., Coughlan, H.D., Zhou, J.H.S., Keenan, C.R., Bediaga, N.G., Hodgkin, P.D., Smyth, G.K., Johanson, T.M. & Allan, R.S. Pre-mitotic genome re-organisation bookends the B cell differentiation process. Nature Communications 2021. PMID: 33637722

Chan, W.F., Coughlan, H.D., Iannarella, N., Smyth, G.K., Johanson, T.M., Keenan, C.R. & Allan, R.S. Identification and characterization of the long noncoding RNA Dreg1 as a novel regulator of Gata3. Immunology & Cell Biology 2021. PMID: 32970351

Keenan, C.R., Mlodzianoski, M.J., Coughlan, H.D., Bediaga, N.G., Naselli, G., Lucas, E.C., Wang, Q., de Graaf, C.A., Hilton, D.J., Harrison, L.C., Smyth, G.K., Rogers, K.L., Boudier, T., Allan, R.S. & Johanson, T.M. Chromosomes distribute randomly to, but not within, human neutrophil nuclear lobes. iScience 2021. PMID: 33665577

Keenan, C.R., Iannarella, N., Naselli, G., Bediaga, N.G., Johanson, T.M., Harrison, L.C. & Allan, R.S. Extreme disruption of heterochromatin is required for accelerated hematopoietic aging. Blood 2020. PMID: 32305044

Keenan, C.R. & Allan, R.S. Epigenomic drivers of immune dysfunction in aging. Aging Cell 2019. PMID: 30488545

Keenan CR, Iannarella N, Garnham AL, Brown AC, Kim RY, Horvat JC, Hansbro PM, Nutt SL, Allan RS. Polycomb repressive complex 2 is a critical mediator of allergic inflammation. JCI Insight. 2019. PMID: 31092733

Johanson TM, Chan WF, Keenan CR, Allan RS. Genome organization in immune cells: unique challenges. Nature Reviews Immunology. 2019. PMID: 30926914

Johanson TM, Lun ATL, Coughlan HD, Tan T, Smyth GK, Nutt SL, Allan RS. Transcription-factor-mediated supervision of global genome architecture maintains B cell identity. Nature Immunology. 2018. PMID: 30323344

Johanson, T.M., Coughlan, H.D., Lun, A.T.L., Bediaga, N.G., Naselli, G., Garnham, A.L., Harrison, L.C., Smyth, G.K. & Allan, R.S. Genome-wide analysis reveals no evidence of trans chromosomal regulation of mammalian immune development. PLoS Genetics 2018. PMID: 29883495

Lab research projects

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