Dr Leonie Unterholzner

Senior Lecturer in Molecular Immunology

Research Overview

My research group is interested in how cells can detect foreign DNA, for example when skin cells have been infected by a virus. This is part of the innate immune response, which acts within the first few hours of infection, with the aim to alert more specialised immune cells, and to eliminate the virus before it can spread to other parts of the body. We are investigating how a cell can distinguish viral DNA from its own DNA genome, and how it signals to alert neighbouring cells. We also study how cells can detect their own DNA as danger signal, when the DNA has been damaged by UV light or chemotherapy.

Our work investigates molecular mechanisms that underlie the immune response during infection, autoimmunity and cancer.

Epithelial cells as sentinels in innate immunity
01/10/2023 → 30/09/2024

Investigation of IFI16 modulating molecules on Type I IFN inflammatory mediators following cytosolic DNA sensing or detection of nuclear DNA damage
01/10/2023 → 31/03/2024

STING signalling as link between DNA damaging therapies and innate immunity in bladder cancer
01/12/2022 → 30/11/2025

Talent and Research Stabilisation Fund 2022 (Leonie Unterholzner)
21/11/2022 → 31/03/2023

3 Year Research PhD Studentship: Modulation of the innate immune responses by DNAzymes
04/01/2021 → 30/04/2024

How is the immune system alerted to persistent replication stress and DNA damage in keratinocytes during immunosurveillance against cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma?
01/10/2019 → 30/09/2024

The role of innate immunity in the response to radiation-induced DNA damage in human skin cells
01/02/2019 → 30/04/2019

NWCR Equipment bid: Faxitron CellRad Irradiator
01/10/2018 → 31/03/2019

How does p53 link DNA damage to innate immunity?
01/01/2018 → 31/05/2021

Innate immune recognition of intracellular DNA as 'stranger' and 'danger' signal
01/01/2015 → 31/12/2018

Innate immune recognition of Herpes SImplex Virus in skin cells: Differences between neonatal and adult keratinocytes.
01/08/2014 → 28/02/2016

How do keratinocytes sense the presence of intracellular DNA?
01/02/2014 → 31/08/2015

Elucidating the molecular mechanism of intracellular DNA recognition by the innate immune sensor IFI16
01/02/2013 → 31/07/2018

Regulation of DNA repair and the innate immune response to radio- and chemotherapy by the DNA sensors cGAS and IFI16.
01/01/1900 → …

Dr Abi Spear visiting Lancaster University
Types of Business and Community - Hosting of external, non-academic visitor

MRC Career Development Award
Fellowship awarded competitively

Marie Curie IntraEuropean Fellowship
Fellowship awarded competitively

  • Cancer Biology and Genome Stability
  • Microbes, Pathogens and Immunity