Seth Masters-Projects

Seth Masters-Projects


Novel innate immune pathways in patients with autoinflammatory disease

Genes of the innate immune system are activated by mutations in a number of hereditary periodic fever syndromes (autoinflammatory diseases). However in many cases the precise immune sensor that is triggered is not immediately clear.

We are particularly interested in innate immune sensors that drive autoinflammatory diseases associated with type I IFN (interferonopathies). These are frequently associated with the buildup of cytoplasmic DNA or RNA, triggering sensors such as cGAS and RigI/MDA5. We are now searching to see if these sensors are responsible for disease in particular inferferonopathies, and where they are not involved we are looking to identify novel sensors.

Team member: Dr Sophia Davidson

Resource: Masters, S. (2019, February 3), Cytoplasmic innate immune sensors, The Biomedical & Life Sciences Collection, Henry Stewart Talks

Australian Autoinflammatory Disease Registry

Rapid advances in genetics are providing unprecedented insight into functions of the innate immune system, with identification of the mutations that cause monogenic autoinflammatory diseases. However, many patients do not have a mutation in one of the known disease causing genes, or have a novel mutation of unknown pathogenicity. 

Therefore we have established an Australian Autoinflammatory Disease Registry (AADRY) with three main goals:

  1. Establish a knowledge base and data set that can be used by registry contributors to facilitate patient care and disseminate relevant information
  2. Identification of patients who tested negative for a known mutation, and offer them the option of participating in a whole exome sequencing project
  3. Validate the pathogenicity of novel variants, or variants in genes not previously associated with autoinflammatory disease

The organising committee for this registry includes clinicians from each of the major centres in Australia that treat patients with autoinflammatory disease. These organisations can enter details of their patients with autoinflammatory disease into an online database managed by the Masters laboratory at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

Clinicians will be able to search de-identified data to find resources, and network with others who have experience in the treatment of these rare conditions. Based on this registry, individuals and several families who tested negative for a mutation in known autoinflammatory disease genes have now been consented for exome sequencing, blood collected, DNA prepared and exomes sequenced.

Most of these families represent two unaffected parents and an affected sibling where the genetic mode of inheritance being tested is homozygous recessive, or a de novo dominant mutation. We are now awaiting the bioinformatics analysis of this first set of data.

In the next five years we hope to capture all Australian autoinflammatory disease patients, which probably numbers between 100-200 people.

Team member: Jenni Harris

Resource: Cause of rare immune disease identified


Physiological roles of the inflammasome during disease

Innate immune receptors can recognize foreign pathogens and alert the host to infection. More recently it has emerged that these same receptors can also recognise host molecules that are exposed as a result of cell stress or injury, as a surrogate marker of infection. However these same danger associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) can be present as a trigger for diseases such as allergy, autoimmunity and chronic inflammatory disease.

This project will uncover the roles of key innate immune receptors in laboratory models of these diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, type 2 diabetes and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Team member: Dr Alan Yu

ResourceAustralian researchers find immune 'kill switch', ABC Radio AM