Stone Lab research
About Associate Professor Martin Stone
Associate Professor Martin Stone is a researcher and teacher in the Monash University Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute. He received his BSc and MSc (Hons) degrees from the University of Auckland (New Zealand) and his PhD from the University of Cambridge (UK). He was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Scripps Research Institute in (San Diego, USA) and a faculty member at Indiana University (Bloomington, USA) before moving to Monash in 2007. From 2013-2016 he served as Director of the Graduate Program in Biomedical Science at Monash.
Martin’s research program focuses on the biochemistry and pharmacology of chemokines and their receptors, which play critical roles in directing the migration of leukocytes in inflammatory responses. Recently, his lab has made important contributions to understanding the influence of post-translational tyrosine sulfation on chemokine receptor recognition and function and the structural basis by which chemokines can differentially activate a shared receptor to elicit distinct cellular outcomes. In addition, they have identified a large family of proteins called Evasins that are produced by ticks and inhibit the inflammatory responses of the ticks’ hosts.
- Natural Anti-inflammatory Proteins: Chemokine Inhibition by Tick Evasins
- Signalling Mechanisms Controlling Recruitment of White Blood Cells in Inflammation
Visit Associate Professor Stone's Monash research profile to see a full listing of current projects.
Chemokine receptors in inflammation and infection
Inflammation is the response of a tissue and its microvascular system to injury or infection. A hallmark of inflammation is the accumulation of leukocytes (white blood cells), which remove pathogens and necrotic tissue. However, excessive leukocyte recruitment can lead to degradation of healthy tissue, i.e. inflammatory disease. Leukocyte recruitment in inflammation is controlled by the expression and secretion of small proteins called chemokines at the site of inflammation and by the subsequent interaction of those chemokines with chemokine receptors located on the surfaces of circulating leucocytes. A detailed understanding of chemokine-receptor interactions is required in order to rationally develop novel therapeutic agents against inflammatory diseases.
Natural anti-inflammatory proteins: chemokine inhibition by tick evasins
Ticks, which live on mammalian hosts, produce proteins called evasins, which interact with host chemokines and thereby prevent inflammatory responses, allowing the ticks to live longer on their hosts. We have discovered a large number of new evasin proteins and shown that they bind and inhibit human chemokines, suggesting they have enormous potential as chemokine-targeted anti-inflammatory agents. This research project focuses on characterising the interactions of evasins with chemokines. Our results will enable the development of evasin-like proteins that target specific groups of chemokines in inflammatory disease therapy.
Figure 1. Ticks secrete Evasin proteins into their mammalian hosts, thereby suppressing the host inflammatory response.
Signalling mechanisms controlling recruitment of white blood cells in inflammation
Leukocyte recruitment in inflammation is regulated by chemokines, which are secreted at the site of injury or infection and then activate chemokine receptors, G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) expressed on the target leukocytes. In this project, we are studying the molecular details of how chemokines induce transmembrane signalling by their receptors and the intracellular signalling pathways that are activated by chemokine-receptor interactions. These studies will provide a solid mechanistic foundation for future development of selective therapeutic interventions.
Figure 2. Specific molecular interactions of the chemokine receptor CCR2 control the relative strength (efficacy) of receptor activation by chemokine ligands.
We collaborate with many scientists and research organisations around the world. Some of our more significant national and international collaborators are listed below. Click on the map to see the details for each of these collaborators (dive into specific publications and outputs by clicking on the dots).
Professor Richard Payne (University of Sydney)
Dr Meri Canals (MIPS and University of Nottingham)
Dr Rob Lane (MIPS and University of Nottingham)
Dr Ralf Schittenhelm (Monash Biomedical Proteomics Facility)
Associate Professor Barbara Kemp-Harper (Department of Pharmacology, Monash University)
Dr Andrew Perry (Bioinformatics Platform, Monash University)
Student research projects
Training opportunities are available for PhD, Honours and undergraduate research students. Students involved in our projects will develop high-level critical thinking, project planning and communication skills as well as a variety of technical skills in biochemistry, molecular biology, pharmacology and bioinformatics.
Please visit Supervisor Connect to explore the projects currently available in our Lab.