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Smith Lab

Research Interests

innate immune system, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, immune cells, coelomocytes, lipopolysaccharide

Research Area

Our interest in Marine Biomedicine is centered on understanding the innate immune system of invertebrates and focused on the purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Annotation of the sea urchin genome and the identification of gene models encoding proteins that function in immunity has demonstrated that innate immune system of this long-lived invertebrate is complex and sophisticated. Many of the immune response genes are expressed in the immune cells, or coelomocytes, that become activated in response to infection or injury. EST analysis has identified a number of genes that are upregulated in activated coelomocytes in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), other pathogen associated molecular patterns, and heat killed Vibrio diazotrophicus (a marine bacterium). These include homologues of the complement cascade, a number of lectins, a Tie receptor homologue (a putative growth factor receptor), antimicrobial peptides called Sp. Strongelocins, and a family of genes called Sp185/333, among other genes.

Current Members

Smith, L Courtney (Principal Investigator/Director)



Institution: George Washington University


Web Page:

Personal Phone: 202-994-9211