Caroline M Milner

The University of Manchester, Manchester, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (46)159.55 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The matrix polysaccharide hyaluronan (HA) has a critical role in the expansion of the cumulus cell-oocyte complex (COC), a process that is necessary for ovulation and fertilization in most mammals. Hyaluronan is organized into a crosslinked network by the cooperative action of three proteins, inter-alpha-inhibitor (IalphaI), pentraxin-3 and TNF-induced protein-6 (TSG-6), driving the expansion of the COC and providing the cumulus matrix with its required viscoelastic properties. While it is known that matrix stabilization involves the TSG-6-mediated transfer of IalphaI heavy chains (HC) onto hyaluronan (to form covalent HC-HA complexes that are crosslinked by pentraxin-3), and that this occurs via the formation of covalent HC-TSG-6 intermediates, the underlying molecular mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we have determined the tertiary structure of the CUB module from human TSG-6, identifying a calcium ion-binding site and chelating glutamic acid residue that mediate the formation of HC-TSG-6. This occurs via an initial metal ion-dependent, non-covalent, interaction between TSG-6 and HCs that also requires the presence of a HC-associated magnesium ion. In addition, we have found that the well-characterised hyaluronan-binding site in the TSG-6 Link module is not used for recognition during transfer of HCs onto HA. Analysis of TSG-6 mutants (with either impaired transferase and/or hyaluronan-binding functions), revealed that while the TSG-6-mediated formation of HC-HA complexes is essential for the expansion of mouse COCs in vitro, the hyaluronan-binding function of TSG-6 does not play a major role in the stabilization of the murine cumulus matrix.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
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    Full-text · Dataset · Sep 2015
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    ABSTRACT: During follicle development, oocytes secrete factors that influence the development of granulosa and cumulus cells (CCs). In response to oocyte and somatic cell signals, CCs produce extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules resulting in cumulus expansion, which is essential for ovulation, fertilisation, and is predictive of oocyte quality. The cumulus ECM is largely made up of hyaluronan (HA), TNF-stimulated gene-6 (TSG-6, also known as TNFAIP6), pentraxin-3 (PTX3), and the heavy chains (HCs) of serum-derived inter-α-inhibitor proteins. In contrast to other in vivo models where modified expansion impairs fertility, the cumulus mass of C1galt1 Mutants, which have oocyte-specific deletion of core 1-derived O-glycans, is modified without impairing fertility. In this report, we used C1galt1 Mutant (C1galt1(FF):ZP3Cre) and Control (C1galt1(FF)) mice to investigate how cumulus expansion is affected by oocyte-specific deletion of core 1-derived O-glycans without adversely affecting oocyte quality. Mutant cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) are smaller than Controls, with fewer CCs. Interestingly, the CCs in Mutant mice are functionally normal as each cell produced normal levels of the ECM molecules HA, TSG-6, and PTX3. However, HC levels were elevated in Mutant COCs. These data reveal that oocyte glycoproteins carrying core 1-derived O-glycans have a regulatory role in COC development. In addition, our study of Controls indicates that a functional COC can form provided all essential components are present above a minimum threshold level, and thus some variation in ECM composition does not adversely affect oocyte development, ovulation or fertilisation. These data have important implications for IVF and the use of cumulus expansion as a criterion for oocyte assessment. © 2015 The authors.
    Full-text · Article · May 2015 · Reproduction
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    ABSTRACT: Mammalian oocytes are surrounded by a highly hydrated hyaluronan (HA)-rich extracellular matrix with embedded cumulus cells, forming the cumulus cell-oocyte complex (COC) matrix. The correct assembly, stability and mechanical properties of this matrix, which are crucial for successful ovulation, transport of the COC to the oviduct and its fertilization, depend on the interaction between HA and specific HA-organizing proteins. Although the proteins inter-αinhibitor (IαI), pentraxin 3 (PTX3) and TNF-stimulated gene-6 (TSG-6) have been identified as being critical for COC matrix formation, its supramolecular organization and the molecular mechanism of COC matrix stabilization remain unknown. Here we used films of end-grafted HA as a model system to investigate the molecular interactions involved in the formation and stabilization of HA matrices containing TSG-6, IαI and PTX3. We found that PTX3 binds neither to HA alone nor to HA films containing TSG-6. This long pentraxin also failed to bind to products of the interaction between IαI, TSG-6 and HA, among which are the covalent HC·HA and HC·TSG-6 complexes, despite the fact that both IαI and TSG-6 are ligands of PTX3. Interestingly, prior encounter with IαI was required for effective incorporation of PTX3 into TSG-6-loaded HA films. Moreover, we demonstrated that this ternary protein mixture made of IαI, PTX3 and TSG-6 is sufficient to promote formation of a stable (i.e. cross-linked) yet highly hydrated HA matrix. We propose that this mechanism is essential for correct assembly of the COC matrix, and may also have general implications in other inflammatory processes that are associated with HA-crosslinking.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
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    ABSTRACT: TNF-stimulated gene/protein-6 (TSG-6) is expressed by many different cell types in response to proinflammatory cytokines and plays an important role in the protection of tissues from the damaging consequences of acute inflammation. Recently, TSG-6 was identified as being largely responsible for the beneficial effects of multipotent mesenchymal stem cells, for example in the treatment of animal models of myocardial infarction and corneal injury/allogenic transplant. The protective effect of TSG-6 is due in part to its inhibition of neutrophil migration, but the mechanisms underlying this activity remain unknown. In this study, we have shown that TSG-6 inhibits chemokine-stimulated transendothelial migration of neutrophils via a direct interaction (KD, ∼25 nM) between TSG-6 and the glycosaminoglycan binding site of CXCL8, which antagonizes the association of CXCL8 with heparin. Furthermore, we found that TSG-6 impairs the binding of CXCL8 to cell surface glycosaminoglycans and the transport of CXCL8 across an endothelial cell monolayer. In vivo this could limit the formation of haptotactic gradients on endothelial heparan sulfate proteoglycans and, hence, integrin-mediated tight adhesion and migration. We further observed that TSG-6 suppresses CXCL8-mediated chemotaxis of neutrophils; this lower potency effect might be important at sites where there is high local expression of TSG-6. Thus, we have identified TSG-6 as a CXCL8-binding protein, making it, to our knowledge, the first soluble mammalian chemokine-binding protein to be described to date. We have also revealed a potential mechanism whereby TSG-6 mediates its anti-inflammatory and protective effects. This could inform the development of new treatments for inflammation in the context of disease or following transplantation.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2014 · The Journal of Immunology
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    ABSTRACT: Tumor necrosis factor-stimulated gene-6 (TSG-6) is an inflammation-associated hyaluronan (HA)-binding protein that contributes to remodeling of HA-rich extracellular matrices during inflammatory processes and ovulation. The HA-binding domain of TSG-6 consists solely of a Link module, making it a prototypical member of the superfamily of proteins that interacts with this high molecular weight polysaccharide composed of repeating disaccharides of d-glucuronic acid and N-acetyl-d-glucosamine (GlcNAc). Previously we modeled a complex of the TSG-6 Link module in association with an HA octasaccharide based on the structure of the domain in its HA-bound conformation. Here we have generated a refined model for a HA/Link module complex using novel restraints identified from NMR spectroscopy of the protein in the presence of 10 distinct HA oligosaccharides (from 4- to 8-mers); the model was then tested using unique sugar reagents, i.e. chondroitin/HA hybrid oligomers and an octasaccharide in which a single sugar ring was 13C-labeled. The HA chain was found to make more extensive contacts with the TSG-6 surface than thought previously, such that a d-glucuronic acid ring makes stacking and ionic interactions with a histidine and lysine, respectively. Importantly, this causes the HA to bend around two faces of the Link module (resembling the way that HA binds to CD44), potentially providing a mechanism for how TSG-6 can reorganize HA during inflammation. However, the HA-binding site defined here may not play a role in TSG-6-mediated transfer of heavy chains from inter-α-inhibitor onto HA, a process known to be essential for ovulation.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
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    ABSTRACT: The human endometrium undergoes repetitive, cyclical changes under the influence of endocrine signals (estrogen and progesterone). In particular, the extensive tissue remodeling, angiogenesis and leukocyte infiltration that occur during decidualization of the endometrium give rise to an environment that is permissive to blastocyst attachment. However, it is now well established that crosstalk (via paracrine signals) between the trophoblast and the endometrium is also a key for successful implantation. Microarray studies have identified TSG-6 as a gene with elevated expression in endometrial stromal cells following the exposure to trophoblast and immune cell products. TSG-6 is an inflammation-associated protein which acts as a potent inhibitor of neutrophil extravasation and also plays important roles in matrix remodeling, e.g., by promoting hyaluronan (HA) cross-linking and down-regulating the protease network. Female TSG-6 (-/-) mice are infertile and this has been attributed to their inability to ovulate; however, the importance of TSG-6 in implantation has not been directly investigated. Real-time PCR, as well as immunofluorescence staining was performed on endometrial biopsies of proliferative and secretory phase samples. In addition stromal cell cultures of human endometrium were used to assess the influence of different stimulating factors on the TSG-6 gene and protein expression via real-time PCR and ELISA. Herein demonstrate that TSG-6 mRNA is expressed by the endometrium during the proliferative and secretory phases of the menstrual cycle. We also show that conditioned media from placental tissues induce rapid upregulation of TSG-6 mRNA expression and sustained protein secretion, with evidence that TNF is an important factor in this effect. Furthermore, we demonstrate changes in protein expression in the mid-secretory phase in women affected by recurrent abortions. These data suggest that TSG-6 expression might be essential in endometrial matrix organization and feto-maternal communication during the implantation process.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Archives of Gynecology
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    ABSTRACT: Under inflammatory conditions and in the matrix of the cumulus-oocyte complex (COC), the polysaccharide hyaluronan (HA) becomes decorated covalently with heavy chains (HCs) of the serum glycoprotein inter-α-inhibitor (IαI). This alters the functional properties of the HA as well as its structural role within extracellular matrices. The covalent transfer of HCs from IαI to HA is catalyzed by tumor necrosis factor-stimulated gene-6 (TSG-6) but TSG-6 is also known as a HA cross-linker that induces condensation of the HA matrix. Here, we investigate the interplay of these two distinct functions of TSG-6 by studying the ternary interactions of IαI and TSG-6 with well defined films of end-grafted HA chains. We demonstrate that TSG-6 mediated cross-linking of HA films is impaired in the presence of IαI, and that this effect suppresses the TSG-6-mediated enhancement of HA binding to CD44 positive cells. Furthermore, we find that the interaction of TSG-6 and IαI in the presence of HA gives rise to two types of complexes that independently promote the covalent transfer of heavy chains to HA. One type of complex interacts very weakly with HA and is likely to correspond to the previously reported covalent HC·TSG-6 complexes. The other type of complex is novel and binds stably but non-covalently to HA. Prolonged incubation with TSG-6 and IαI leads to HA films that contain, in addition to covalently HA-bound HCs, several tightly but non-covalently bound molecular species. These findings have important implications for understanding how the biological activities of TSG-6 are regulated, such that the presence or absence of IαI will dictate its function.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
  • D. P. Dyer · A. J. Day · C. M. Milner

    No preview · Article · Aug 2012 · International Journal of Experimental Pathology

  • No preview · Article · May 2012 · Journal of Reproductive Immunology
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    ABSTRACT: TSG-6 (the product of tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-stimulated gene 6) has a potent inhibitory effect on RANKL-mediated bone erosion. The aim of this study was to compare the activity of TSG-6 with that of osteoprotegerin (OPG) and to investigate its role as an autocrine modulator of cytokine-mediated osteoclast formation/activation. We also determined TSG-6 expression in inflammatory joint disease. The effects of TSG-6, OPG, and the inflammation mediators TNFα, interleukin-1 (IL-1), and IL-6 on the formation of osteoclasts from peripheral blood mononuclear cells and synovial fluid (SF) macrophages were determined by tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase staining. Lacunar resorption and filamentous actin ring formation were measured as indicators of osteoclast activity. The amount of TSG-6 in culture media or SF was quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and expression of TSG-6 in synovial tissue was assessed by immunohistochemistry. TSG-6 acted in synergy with OPG to inhibit RANKL-mediated bone resorption and was produced by osteoclast precursors and mature osteoclasts in response to TNFα, IL-1, and IL-6. Expression of TSG-6 correlated with inhibition of lacunar resorption; this effect was ameliorated by an anti-TSG-6 antibody. The level of TSG-6 protein was determined in SF from patients with various arthritides; it was highest in patients with inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, in which it correlated with the amount of TSG-6 immunostaining in the synovium. TSG-6 inhibited the activation but not the formation of osteoclasts from SF macrophages. In the presence of inflammatory cytokines, osteoclasts produced TSG-6 at concentrations that are sufficient to inhibit lacunar resorption. This may represent an autocrine mechanism to limit the degree of bone erosion during joint inflammation.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2011 · Arthritis & Rheumatology
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    K T Tan · D A McGrouther · AJ Day · C M Milner · A Bayat
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    ABSTRACT: Hyaluronan (HA) is a major component of the extracellular matrix (ECM) with increased synthesis during tissue repair. Tumour necrosis factor-stimulated gene-6 (TSG-6) is known to catalyze the covalent transfer of heavy chains (HC1 and HC2) from inter-α-inhibitor (IαI) onto HA, and resultant HC•HA complexes have been implicated in physiological and pathological processes related to remodelling and inflammation. The aims of this study were to determine the expression of HA, TSG-6 and the IαI polypeptides in unscarred skin, normal scars and keloid scars. Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded sections of unscarred skin, normal scars and keloid scars were prepared from patient samples collected during scar revision surgery. Haematoxylin and eosin, as well as immunofluorescent staining for HA, TSG-6 and the three polypeptide chains of IαI (i.e. HC1, HC2 and bikunin) were performed. All skin types stained positive for TSG-6, HC1, HC2 and bikunin, associated with keratinocytes, fibroblasts and skin appendages all in close proximity to HA. Keloid lesions showed altered HA organization patterns compared with unscarred skin and normal scars. TSG-6 staining was significantly more intense in the epidermis compared with the dermis of all sample types. There was a significant reduction in TSG-6 levels within keloid lesions compared with the dermis of unscarred skin (P=0.017). TSG-6 is expressed in unscarred skin, where its close association with HA and IαI could give rise to TSG-6-mediated HC•HA formation within this tissue. A reduction in the beneficial effects of TSG-6, caused by diminished protein levels in keloid lesions, could contribute to this abnormal scarring process.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2011 · Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
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    ABSTRACT: The exact mechanism of capsular contracture (CC) is still unknown. The covalent modification of hyaluronan (HA) with the heavy chains (HC) of inter-α-inhibitor (IαI) has been identified as an important pathway in inflammation and tissue remodeling, where HC·HA formation is catalyzed by TSG-6 (the protein product of tumor necrosis factor stimulated gene-6). The authors quantitatively assess the correlation between severity of CC (measured by Baker grade) and expression of HA, TSG-6, and IαI (ie, the polypeptides HC1, HC2, and bikunin) in periprosthetic breast capsules. Immunofluorescent staining for HA, TSG-6, HC1, HC2, and bikunin was carried out on periprosthetic breast capsules (n = 7) of each Baker grade from four anatomical locations. Quantitative analysis was performed to identify differences in staining intensity. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) was performed to determine differences in TSG-6 gene expression levels. Severity of contracture was associated with reduced staining for both free HA (Pearson correlation coefficient, r = -0.645, P < .001) and TSG-6 (r = -0.642, P = .002). RT-qPCR showed a significant negative correlation between severity of contracture and TSG-6 gene expression levels (r = -0.750, P = .001). The negative correlation between TSG-6 expression levels and severity of CC suggests a possible protective role for TSG-6 in the context of CC formation, and this may have a clinically relevant role in prevention of breast CC.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2011 · Aesthetic surgery journal / the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic surgery
  • Douglas Dyer · Caroline Milner · Anthony Day

    No preview · Article · Jan 2011
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    ABSTRACT: Migration Stimulating Factor (MSF) is a genetically truncated isoform of fibronectin (Fn). MSF is a potent stimulator of fibroblast migration, whereas full length Fn is devoid of motogenic activity. MSF and Fn contain four IGD motifs, located in the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th type I modules; these modules are referred to as (3)FnI, (5)FnI, (7)FnI and (9)FnI, respectively. We have previously reported that mutation of IGD motifs in modules (7)FnI and (9)FnI of MSF is sufficient to completely abolish the motogenic response of target adult skin fibroblasts. We now report that the IGD sequences in (3)FnI and (5)FnI are also capable of exhibiting motogenic activity when present within fragments of MSF. When present within (1-5)FnI, these sequences require the presence of serum or vitronectin for their motogenic activity to be manifest, whereas the IGD sequences in (7)FnI and (9)FnI are bioactive in the absence of serum factors. All MSF and IGD-containing peptides stimulated the phosphorylation of the integrin binding protein focal adhesion kinase (FAK) but did not necessarily affect migration. These results suggest that steric hindrance determines the motogenic activity of MSF and Fn, and that both molecules contain cryptic bioactive fragments.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2010 · Experimental Cell Research

  • No preview · Article · Jun 2010 · Bone

  • No preview · Conference Paper · Apr 2010
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    ABSTRACT: The prototypic long PTX3 is a multifunctional protein involved in innate resistance to pathogens and in controlling inflammation. TSG-6 is a hyaluronan-binding protein that is involved in ECM remodeling and has anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective functions. PTX3 and TSG-6 are coregulated by growth differentiation factor-9 in granulosa cells, where they are produced during the periovulatory period and play essential roles in the incorporation of hyaluronan into the ECM during cumulus expansion. The present study was designed to assess whether PTX3 and TSG-6 are coregulated in leukocytes, in particular, in phagocytes and DC. Monocytes, macrophages, and myeloid DC were found to produce high levels of TSG-6 and PTX3 in response to proinflammatory mediators (LPS or cytokines). Unstimulated neutrophil polymorphonuclear granulocytes expressed high levels of TSG-6 mRNA, but not PTX3 transcript, and stored both proteins in granules. In contrast, endothelial cells expressed substantial amounts of PTX3 mRNA and low levels of TSG-6 transcript under the conditions tested. Anti-inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-4, dampened LPS-induced TSG-6 and PTX3 expression. Divergent effects were observed with IL-10, which synergizes with TLR-mediated PTX3 induction but inhibits LPS-induced TSG-6 transcription. Immunohistochemical analysis confirms the colocalization of the two proteins in inflammatory infiltrates and in endothelial cells of inflamed tissues. Thus, here we show that myelomonocytic cells and MoDC are a major source of TSG-6 and that PTX3 and TSG-6 are coregulated under most of the conditions tested. The coordinated expression of PTX3 and TSG-6 may play a role in ECM remodeling at sites of inflammation.
    Full-text · Article · May 2009 · Journal of leukocyte biology
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    ABSTRACT: We have examined the occurrence of the inflammation-associated inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor (IalphaI) components, bikunin, heavy chain (HC)1 and HC2 in normal cartilage and osteoarthritis (OA) cartilage and synovial fluids. Cartilage extracts from normal donors and late-stage OA patients, and synovial fluids from OA patients were studied by Western blot with multiple antibodies to bikunin, HC1 and HC2. Cell and matrix localization was determined by immunohistochemistry and mRNA by RT-PCR. Bikunin.chondroitin sulfate (CS) and IalphaI were abundant in OA cartilages, but virtually undetectable in normal. In both OA and normal cartilages, HCs were largely present in a novel C-terminally truncated 50-kDa form, with most, if not all of these being attached to CS on a proteoglycan other than bikunin. Synovial fluids from OA patients contained bikunin.CS and full-length (approximately 90 kDa) HCs linked to hyaluronan (HA) as HC.HA (SHAP.HA). Immunohistochemistry showed intracellular and cell-associated staining for bikunin and HCs, consistent with their synthesis by superficial zone chondrocytes. PCR on multiple human normal and OA cartilage samples detected transcripts for HC1 and HC2 but not for bikunin. In OA cartilages, immunostaining was predominantly matrix-associated, being most intense in regions with a pannus-like fibrotic overgrowth. The truncated structure of HCs, their attachment to a proteoglycan other than bikunin, PCR data and intracellular staining are all consistent with synthesis of HC1 and HC2 by human articular chondrocytes. The presence of bikunin.CS and IalphaI in OA cartilage, but not in normal, appears to be due to diffusional uptake and retention through fibrillated (but not deeply fissured) cartilage surfaces.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2008 · Osteoarthritis and Cartilage
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    ABSTRACT: TSG-6 is an inflammation-induced protein that is produced at pathological sites, including arthritic joints. In animal models of arthritis, TSG-6 protects against joint damage; this has been attributed to its inhibitory effects on neutrophil migration and plasmin activity. Here we investigated whether TSG-6 can directly influence bone erosion. Our data reveal that TSG-6 inhibits RANKL-induced osteoclast differentiation/activation from human and murine precursor cells, where elevated dentine erosion by osteoclasts derived from TSG-6(-/-) mice is consistent with the very severe arthritis seen in these animals. However, the long bones from unchallenged TSG-6(-/-) mice were found to have higher trabecular mass than controls, suggesting that in the absence of inflammation TSG-6 has a role in bone homeostasis; we have detected expression of the TSG-6 protein in the bone marrow of unchallenged wild type mice. Furthermore, we have observed that TSG-6 can inhibit bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2)-mediated osteoblast differentiation. Interaction analysis revealed that TSG-6 binds directly to RANKL and to BMP-2 (as well as other osteogenic BMPs but not BMP-3) via composite surfaces involving its Link and CUB modules. Consistent with this, the full-length protein is required for maximal inhibition of osteoblast differentiation and osteoclast activation, although the isolated Link module retains significant activity in the latter case. We hypothesize that TSG-6 has dual roles in bone remodeling; one protective, where it inhibits RANKL-induced bone erosion in inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, and the other homeostatic, where its interactions with BMP-2 and RANKL help to balance mineralization by osteoblasts and bone resorption by osteoclasts.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2008 · Journal of Biological Chemistry

Publication Stats

2k Citations
159.55 Total Impact Points


  • 2008-2015
    • The University of Manchester
      • • Faculty of Life Sciences
      • • Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research
      Manchester, England, United Kingdom
  • 1990-2008
    • University of Oxford
      • Department of Biochemistry
      Oxford, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 2003-2007
    • Uppsala University
      • Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology
      Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden
    • Mrc Harwell
      Oxford, England, United Kingdom
  • 1992
    • Medical Research Council (UK)
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom