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Yueh-Ming (Ming) Loo, Ph.D.

University of Washington • Department of Immunology | 750 Republican Street Box 358059, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
(206) 543-4167

Lab Staff

Megan Knoll, Research Scientists
Duncan Hendrick, Research Scientists
Yueh-Ming (Ming) Loo, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor, Department of Immunology, University of Washington

The innate immune system detects and responds within minutes or hours to infection and provides us with the first lines of defense against infections. Innate immunity begins with the non-self-recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs), conserved molecular features unique to pathogens that happen to be presented during infection. Such motifs are detected by specialized pathogen recognition receptors (PRRs) that in response initiates complex signaling cascades that culminate in the expression of antimicrobial genes and interferons that function to suppress and control infection.

Research by our group focuses on a family of PRRs consisting of the retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) and related proteins that recognize nucleic acids from viruses in the host cell and are essential for signaling the innate immune response to control virus infection. Upon detection of viral nucleic acids, RIG-I initiates a signaling cascade that culminates in the expression of many genes with direct antiviral activity and the production of interferons and cytokines that coordinately function to limit infection. Signaling by RIG-I is tightly regulated by post-translational modifications as well as intra- and intermolecular interactions with itself and with signaling co-factors. We are particularly interested in understanding the molecular interactions that govern RIG-I induction of innate immunity. Our research has led to the identification of nucleic acid moieties and small, drug-like molecules that can activate RIG-I-dependent innate immune responses. Such molecules exhibit potent and broad-spectrum antiviral activity and also the ability to potentiate vaccine-mediated immune responses. A major focus of our on-going research is in using these molecules to understand the mechanism of RIG-I signaling, and the development of novel RIG-I-based therapies to control virus infection.