Department of Microbiology & Cell Biology, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012,
K N Balaji, IISc, Bengaluru, elected to Fellowship in 2016. Balaji has worked on the immunological parameters associated with the interaction of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) with its host. His initial work focused on virulence-conferring PE proteins of Mtb. His work has also contributed to the identification of biomarkers associated with TB and spans varied aspects of immunology, including inflammatory disorders like arthritis and IBD. His is a recipient of the Sir C.V. Raman Young Scientist Karnataka State Award (2008), National Bioscience Award for Career Development (2009), Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize (2011), JC Bose National Fellowship (2016), to name a few.
Session 2D - Inaugural Lecture
Mycobacteria scapegoat host epigenetic factors and non-coding RNAs to sneak through host immune responses
Infections with pathogenic mycobacteria are a global concern, with tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), itself afflicting about one-third of the world population. The success of the pathogen is due in part to its worthwhile co-evolution with the host which allows it to flourish amidst a focused immune response. Alongside being armed for self-defense, Mtb has also prudently garnered an armamentarium of mechanisms to modulate host cellular machinery to its favour. Such strategies include generation of regulatory T cells, compromising of host cell apoptosis, skewing of cytokine response, inhibition of autophagy, generation of foamy macrophages, etc. Among the plethora of host molecules being hijacked by Mtb to furnish the immune evasion strategies, fine tuning of host epigenetic modifiers and non-coding RNAs like miRNAs serve as yet another line of ammunition in its arsenal. In this context, the present talk will focus on the ability of Mtb to strategize host miRNAs for inhibition of autophagy and to plant host epigenetic modifiers for generation of foamy macrophages, so as to create a haven in the hostile environment offered by the host.