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Dr Alex Taylor

Research Interests

My PhD & first postdoc (with Brian Sutton at KCL) involved studying the IgY isotype, Fc receptors and monocytes from birds, as we were trying to understand the evolutionary changes that have led to the divergence of IgG and IgE in mammals.

My current research with Phil Holliger at MRC-LMB has real potential to make contributions in immunology. It tackles more fundamental questions of molecular evolution. We have been using protein engineering & directed evolution to adapt polymerases to alternative nucleotide triphosphates with the result that we can encode and recover sequences in a range of synthetic genetic polymers, which we call 'XNAs'. The XNAs themselves can be evolved to bind targets tightly & specifically, creating 'aptamers' - i.e. nucleic acid-based antibodies. As these  are chemically very different from DNA or RNA they can't be degraded by nucleases in the blood, making them of interest for immunological applications and therapeutics.


XNA ; directed evolution ; antibody ; synthetic biology

Key Publications

Pinheiro, V.B. Taylor, A.I. Cozens C, Abramov M, Renders M, Zhang S, Chaput JC, Wengel J, Peak-Chew SY, McLaughlin SH, Herdewijn P,  Holliger, P. Synthetic Genetic Polymers Capable of Heredity and Evolution, Science 2012 336 (6079) 341-344.

Taylor, A.I., Sutton, B.J., Calvert, R.A. Mutations in an avian IgY-Fc fragment reveal the locations of monocyte Fc receptor binding sites, Developmental and Comparative Immunology 2010 34(2), 97-101. 

Taylor, A.I., Beavil, R.L., Sutton, B.J., Calvert, R.A.  A monomeric chicken IgY receptor binds IgY with 2:1 stoichiometry, Journal of Biological Chemistry 2009 284(36), 24168-75 . 

Taylor, A.I., Fabiane, S.M., Sutton, B.J., Calvert, R.A. The Crystal Structure of an Avian IgY-Fc Fragment Reveals Conservation with both Mammalian IgG and IgE, Biochemistry 2009 48(3), 558-62.

Taylor, A.I., Gould, H.J., Sutton, B.J., Calvert, R.A. Avian IgY binds to a monocyte receptor with IgG-like kinetics despite an IgE-like structure, Journal of Biological Chemistry 2008 283(24), 16384-90.

Taylor, A.I., Gould, H.J., Sutton, B.J., Calvert, R.A.  The first avian Ig-like Fc receptor family member combines features of mammalian FcR and FCRL, Immunogenetics 2007 59(4), 323-8.