- Drakesmith Group: Iron and Immunity Research Group
Pei Jin Lim
I am interested in the molecular mechanisms regulating iron homeostasis. I study how the body senses excess iron and converts that into a danger signal to regulate iron absorption. Our work shows that the transcription factor Nrf2, the master regulator of antioxidant response, is a molecular sensor of iron that upregulates the Bmp/Smad signalling pathway to induce hepcidin synthesis and block further iron uptake and recycling. Nrf2-deficiency causes defective Bmp6 and hepcidin responses, and causes iron over-accumulation. In haemochromatosis patients, a SNP in the NRF2 promoter is predicted to reduce NRF2 activity and is associated with increased disease burden. Pharmacological activation of Nrf2 rescues iron accumulation in a haemochromatosis mouse model. These findings may translate into new therapeutic options for treating iron overload diseases via activating Nrf2.
Before my DPhil, I did my B.Sc degree at the University of Singapore. I studied the replication of Chikungunya virus at the Department of Microbiology in the lab of Dr Justin Chu. I came to Oxford in 2013 and joined the Drakesmith lab as a DPhil student.