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Blizard Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Professor Aine McKnight, BSc, MSc, PhD


Professor of Viral Pathology

Centre: Genomics and Child Health

Telephone: 020 7882 2314
Room Number: OE-08


Aine was educated in Dublin, Ireland. Throughout her academic career, she has been interested in HIV/AIDS. In 1987, she joined the team of Robin Weiss at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, to study the role of neutralizing antibodies to HIV-1 and HIV-2 in pathogenesis. She was awarded MSc in Immunology in 1990 by King's College, London, and a PhD in 1996 by University of London (supervised by Paul Clapham and Robin Weiss). In 2000, she won a fellowship by The Wellcome Trust to develop an independent research group to focus on non-co receptor determinants of HIV replication in cells at The Wohl Virion Centre, University College London. She was subsequently awarded a Medical Research Council (MRC) Senior Non-clinical Fellowship. She moved to Bart & The London medical school in 2006 to take up a position of Professor of viral pathology.



Recent and ongoing research projects:

Aine’s group currently focus on novel host cell restriction factors that inhibit HIV replication contemporaneously with reverse transcription and before the virus has the opportunity to integrate its genome into host DNA. 

Her group also continues to investigate neutralisation of HIV.  In east London she has recruited over 500 patients infected with viruses from all over the world.  So far she has shown that the diversity of HIV may not be the major obstacle, once thought, for development of a vaccine because neutralisation is not clade specific.  Among this cohort of infected patients we also have a small cohort of viraemic controllers and we are currently investigating if neutralising antibodies could have a role.


Topics for PhD supervision:

  • HIV host cell restriction factors
  • HIV tropism and neutralization
  • Innate immunity to viruses


Research Interests:

The interests of Aine’s group focus mainly on the interface between HIV and the immune system with regard to adaptive humoral and innate immunity.

Her current focus is in innate immunity and mechanism of action of proteins expressed intrinsically in cells that restrict HIV infection. She described an innate immune mechanism, lentiviral restriction-2 (Lv2), which inhibits HIV replication after cellular entry resulting in abortive infection. Using a whole genome siRNA screening approach she has identified over 100 proteins involved in intrinsic resistance to HIV infection of cells including, RNA associated Anti-viral Factor (REAF), which is responsible for Lv2 (Lui et al Marno et al 2014). Determinants of sensitivity or resistance to REAF reside in the capsid or envelope proteins (Schmitz et al, Marno et al 2017).   REAF associates with reverse transcription complexes (Marno et al 2014) and prevents the completion of reverse transcription. It is upregulated in macrophages in response to reverse transcription and HIV induces its degradation counteracting its activity at the viral reverse transcription stage.


Publications last 5 years:

Kelly M. Marno Eithne O’Sullivan Christopher E. Jones, Julieta Díaz-Delfín, Claire PardieuRichard D. Sloan and Aine McKnight. RNA-Associated Early-Stage Antiviral Factor Is a Major Component of Lv2 Restriction. J. Virol.  vol. 91 May 2017 

Christopher E Jones, Aine McKnight. Retroviral restriction: Nature’s own solution Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases:  vol 29 December 2016

Kelly Marno, Lara Al’ZoubicMatthew PearsonMarkus Posch, Aine McKnight and Ann P. Wheeler. The evolution of structured illumination microscopy in studies of HIV (Methods Available online 10 June 2015.

Kelly M. Marno, William B. Ogunkolade, Corinna Pade, Nidia MM Oliveira, Eithne O’Sullivan, Li Liu, Aine McKnight. Novel restriction factor RNA-associated Early-stage Anti-viral Factor (REAF) inhibits human and simian immunodeficiency viruses. Retrovirology. 11 2014


View all Aine McKnight's Research Publications at:

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