Dr Gavin J Wright | Senior Group Leader

Wright, Gavin J

Gavin is interested in the molecular basis of cellular recognition events. The goals of his research are to obtain a mechanistic understanding of how cells interact both within our own bodies and with pathogens. Ultimately, this knowledge will inform the rational design of intervention strategies for the treatment and prevention of genetic and infectious diseases.

Gavin graduated from the University of Oxford with a degree in Biochemistry in 1996 before studying for a D.Phil. within the Medical Research Council (MRC) Cellular Immunology Unit with Professor Neil Barclay at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology.

He initially worked on CD200 (formally OX2), a cell surface protein expressed in both the immune and nervous systems and discovered its receptor, which was found to be restricted to myeloid-lineage cells. Together with collaborators, Gavin's team showed that endogenous CD200 and also close homologues of this protein which had been captured by both pox and herpes viruses delivered restrictive signals to macrophages to locally suppress their activation. It is these studies that sparked his broad interests in cell surface receptor proteins and their role in cellular signalling and recognition processes. For his postdoc, Gavin worked with Dr Julian Lewis at Cancer Research UK, London where he studied the Notch signalling pathway, using the zebrafish model organism.

His research at the Wellcome Sanger Institute has focused on taking large-scale systematic approaches to identify novel receptor-ligand pairs that initiate intercellular signalling. In particular, Gavin is interested in the low affinity interactions that are a common feature of cell surface receptor interactions and develops new methods to identify this type of binding event which cannot be easily detected using other scalable techniques. The laboratory has identified many novel receptor-ligand pairs including Juno-Izumo, which is essential for mammalian sperm-egg recognition, and RH5-basigin that is required for the invasion of blood cells by the malaria parasite.


  • Juno is the egg Izumo receptor and is essential for mammalian fertilization.

    Bianchi E, Doe B, Goulding D and Wright GJ

    Nature 2014;508;7497;483-7

  • Basigin is a receptor essential for erythrocyte invasion by Plasmodium falciparum.

    Crosnier C, Bustamante LY, Bartholdson SJ, Bei AK, Theron M et al.

    Nature 2011;480;7378;534-7

  • Jamb and jamc are essential for vertebrate myocyte fusion.

    Powell GT and Wright GJ

    PLoS biology 2011;9;12;e1001216

  • Large-scale screening for novel low-affinity extracellular protein interactions.

    Bushell KM, Söllner C, Schuster-Boeckler B, Bateman A and Wright GJ

    Genome research 2008;18;4;622-30

  • Lymphoid/neuronal cell surface OX2 glycoprotein recognizes a novel receptor on macrophages implicated in the control of their function.

    Wright GJ, Puklavec MJ, Willis AC, Hoek RM, Sedgwick JD et al.

    Immunity 2000;13;2;233-42

  • Adaptation of Plasmodium falciparum to humans involved the loss of an ape-specific erythrocyte invasion ligand.

    Proto WR, Siegel SV, Dankwa S, Liu W, Kemp A et al.

    Nature communications 2019;10;1;4512

  • High-Content Imaging for Large-Scale Detection of Low-Affinity Extracellular Protein Interactions.

    Wood L and Wright GJ

    SLAS discovery : advancing life sciences R & D 2019;2472555219879053

  • Resurrection of the ancestral RH5 invasion ligand provides a molecular explanation for the origin of P. falciparum malaria in humans.

    Galaway F, Yu R, Constantinou A, Prugnolle F and Wright GJ

    PLoS biology 2019;17;10;e3000490

  • Detection of Cell Surface Ligands for Human Synovial γδ T Cells.

    Collins C, Lui Y, Santos AM, Ballif BA, Gogerly-Moragoda AM et al.

    Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) 2019

  • Heparan sulfates are critical regulators of the inhibitory megakaryocyte-platelet receptor G6b-B.

    Vögtle T, Sharma S, Mori J, Nagy Z, Semeniak D et al.

    eLife 2019;8

  • Antibody Reactivity to Merozoite Antigens in Ghanaian Adults Correlates With Growth Inhibitory Activity Against Plasmodium falciparum in Culture.

    Mensah-Brown HE, Aspeling-Jones H, Delimini RK, Asante KP, Amlabu E et al.

    Open forum infectious diseases 2019;6;7;ofz254

  • Human Antibodies that Slow Erythrocyte Invasion Potentiate Malaria-Neutralizing Antibodies.

    Alanine DGW, Quinkert D, Kumarasingha R, Mehmood S, Donnellan FR et al.

    Cell 2019;178;1;216-228.e21

  • A defined mechanistic correlate of protection against Plasmodium falciparum malaria in non-human primates.

    Douglas AD, Baldeviano GC, Jin J, Miura K, Diouf A et al.

    Nature communications 2019;10;1;1953

  • Important Extracellular Interactions between Plasmodium Sporozoites and Host Cells Required for Infection.

    Dundas K, Shears MJ, Sinnis P and Wright GJ

    Trends in parasitology 2019;35;2;129-139

  • Robust adaptive immune response against Babesia microti infection marked by low parasitemia in a murine model of sickle cell disease.

    Yi W, Bao W, Rodriguez M, Liu Y, Singh M et al.

    Blood advances 2018;2;23;3462-3478

  • Pooled extracellular receptor-ligand interaction screening using CRISPR activation.

    Chong ZS, Ohnishi S, Yusa K and Wright GJ

    Genome biology 2018;19;1;205

  • Approaches to identify extracellular receptor-ligand interactions.

    Wood L and Wright GJ

    Current opinion in structural biology 2018;56;28-36

  • A library of recombinant Babesia microti cell surface and secreted proteins for diagnostics discovery and reverse vaccinology.

    Elton CM, Rodriguez M, Ben Mamoun C, Lobo CA and Wright GJ

    International journal for parasitology 2018

  • Genome-scale identification of cellular pathways required for cell surface recognition.

    Sharma S, Bartholdson SJ, Couch AC, Yusa K and Wright GJ

    Genome research 2018

  • Alpha-v-containing integrins are host receptors for the Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite surface protein, TRAP.

    Dundas K, Shears MJ, Sun Y, Hopp CS, Crosnier C et al.

    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2018;115;17;4477-4482

  • Synergistic malaria vaccine combinations identified by systematic antigen screening.

    Bustamante LY, Powell GT, Lin YC, Macklin MD, Cross N et al.

    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2017;114;45;12045-12050

  • P113 is a merozoite surface protein that binds the N terminus of Plasmodium falciparum RH5.

    Galaway F, Drought LG, Fala M, Cross N, Kemp AC et al.

    Nature communications 2017;8;14333

  • EphrinB1/EphB3b Coordinate Bidirectional Epithelial-Mesenchymal Interactions Controlling Liver Morphogenesis and Laterality.

    Cayuso J, Dzementsei A, Fischer JC, Karemore G, Caviglia S et al.

    Developmental cell 2016;39;3;316-328

  • Sperm Meets Egg: The Genetics of Mammalian Fertilization.

    Bianchi E and Wright GJ

    Annual review of genetics 2016

  • Binding of Plasmodium falciparum Merozoite Surface Proteins DBLMSP and DBLMSP2 to Human Immunoglobulin M Is Conserved among Broadly Diverged Sequence Variants.

    Crosnier C, Iqbal Z, Knuepfer E, Maciuca S, Perrin AJ et al.

    The Journal of biological chemistry 2016;291;27;14285-99

  • The structure of sperm Izumo1 reveals unexpected similarities with Plasmodium invasion proteins.

    Nishimura K, Han L, Bianchi E, Wright GJ, de Sanctis D and Jovine L

    Current biology : CB 2016

  • Divergent evolution of vitamin B9 binding underlies Juno-mediated adhesion of mammalian gametes.

    Han L, Nishimura K, Sadat Al Hosseini H, Bianchi E, Wright GJ and Jovine L

    Current biology : CB 2016;26;3;R100-1

  • A Library of Plasmodium vivax Recombinant Merozoite Proteins Reveals New Vaccine Candidates and Protein-Protein Interactions.

    Hostetler JB, Sharma S, Bartholdson SJ, Wright GJ, Fairhurst RM and Rayner JC

    PLoS neglected tropical diseases 2015;9;12;e0004264

  • Processing of Plasmodium falciparum Merozoite Surface Protein MSP1 Activates a Spectrin-Binding Function Enabling Parasite Egress from RBCs.

    Das S, Hertrich N, Perrin AJ, Withers-Martinez C, Collins CR et al.

    Cell host & microbe 2015;18;4;433-44

  • P-selectin is a host receptor for Plasmodium MSP7 ligands.

    Perrin AJ, Bartholdson SJ and Wright GJ

    Malaria journal 2015;14;238

  • A Human Platelet Receptor Protein Microarray Identifies the High Affinity Immunoglobulin E Receptor Subunit α (FcεR1α) as an Activating Platelet Endothelium Aggregation Receptor 1 (PEAR1) Ligand.

    Sun Y, Vandenbriele C, Kauskot A, Verhamme P, Hoylaerts MF and Wright GJ

    Molecular & cellular proteomics : MCP 2015;14;5;1265-74

  • Cross-species fertilization: the hamster egg receptor, Juno, binds the human sperm ligand, Izumo1.

    Bianchi E and Wright GJ

    Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences 2015;370;1661;20140101

  • Revealing the sequence and resulting cellular morphology of receptor-ligand interactions during Plasmodium falciparum invasion of erythrocytes.

    Weiss GE, Gilson PR, Taechalertpaisarn T, Tham WH, de Jong NW et al.

    PLoS pathogens 2015;11;2;e1004670

  • A PfRH5-based vaccine is efficacious against heterologous strain blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum infection in aotus monkeys.

    Douglas AD, Baldeviano GC, Lucas CM, Lugo-Roman LA, Crosnier C et al.

    Cell host & microbe 2015;17;1;130-9

  • A panel of recombinant monoclonal antibodies against zebrafish neural receptors and secreted proteins suitable for wholemount immunostaining.

    Staudt N, Müller-Sienerth N, Fane-Dremucheva A, Yusaf SP, Millrine D and Wright GJ

    Biochemical and biophysical research communications 2015;456;1;527-33

  • The LRR receptor Islr2 is required for retinal axon routing at the vertebrate optic chiasm.

    Panza P, Sitko AA, Maischein HM, Koch I, Flötenmeyer M et al.

    Neural development 2015;10;23

  • New antigens for a multicomponent blood-stage malaria vaccine.

    Osier FH, Mackinnon MJ, Crosnier C, Fegan G, Kamuyu G et al.

    Science translational medicine 2014;6;247;247ra102

  • Juno is the egg Izumo receptor and is essential for mammalian fertilization.

    Bianchi E, Doe B, Goulding D and Wright GJ

    Nature 2014;508;7497;483-7

  • Development of an antigen microarray for high throughput monoclonal antibody selection.

    Staudt N, Müller-Sienerth N and Wright GJ

    Biochemical and biophysical research communications 2014;445;4;785-90

  • Naturally acquired antibodies specific for Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homologue 5 inhibit parasite growth and predict protection from malaria.

    Tran TM, Ongoiba A, Coursen J, Crosnier C, Diouf A et al.

    The Journal of infectious diseases 2014;209;5;789-98

  • Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte invasion: combining function with immune evasion.

    Wright GJ and Rayner JC

    PLoS pathogens 2014;10;3;e1003943

  • Cloning of recombinant monoclonal antibodies from hybridomas in a single mammalian expression plasmid.

    Müller-Sienerth N, Crosnier C, Wright GJ and Staudt N

    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 2014;1131;229-40

  • RH5-Basigin interaction plays a major role in the host tropism of Plasmodium falciparum.

    Wanaguru M, Liu W, Hahn BH, Rayner JC and Wright GJ

    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2013;110;51;20735-40

  • A library of functional recombinant cell-surface and secreted P. falciparum merozoite proteins.

    Crosnier C, Wanaguru M, McDade B, Osier FH, Marsh K et al.

    Molecular & cellular proteomics : MCP 2013;12;12;3976-86

  • Biochemical analysis of the Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte-binding antigen-175 (EBA175)-glycophorin-A interaction: implications for vaccine design.

    Wanaguru M, Crosnier C, Johnson S, Rayner JC and Wright GJ

    The Journal of biological chemistry 2013;288;45;32106-17

  • A full-length recombinant Plasmodium falciparum PfRH5 protein induces inhibitory antibodies that are effective across common PfRH5 genetic variants.

    Bustamante LY, Bartholdson SJ, Crosnier C, Campos MG, Wanaguru M et al.

    Vaccine 2013;31;2;373-9

  • Biochemical and functional analysis of two Plasmodium falciparum blood-stage 6-cys proteins: P12 and P41.

    Taechalertpaisarn T, Crosnier C, Bartholdson SJ, Hodder AN, Thompson J et al.

    PloS one 2012;7;7;e41937

  • Semaphorin-7A is an erythrocyte receptor for P. falciparum merozoite-specific TRAP homolog, MTRAP.

    Bartholdson SJ, Bustamante LY, Crosnier C, Johnson S, Lea S et al.

    PLoS pathogens 2012;8;11;e1003031

  • The impact of gene expression regulation on evolution of extracellular signaling pathways.

    Charoensawan V, Adryan B, Martin S, Söllner C, Thisse B et al.

    Molecular & cellular proteomics : MCP 2010;9;12;2666-77

  • Construction of a large extracellular protein interaction network and its resolution by spatiotemporal expression profiling.

    Martin S, Söllner C, Charoensawan V, Adryan B, Thisse B et al.

    Molecular & cellular proteomics : MCP 2010;9;12;2654-65

  • A rapid and scalable method for selecting recombinant mouse monoclonal antibodies.

    Crosnier C, Staudt N and Wright GJ

    BMC biology 2010;8;76

  • Hypokalemic periodic paralysis associated with thyrotoxicosis, renal tubular acidosis and nephrogenic diabetes insipidus.

    Im EJ, Lee JM, Kim JH, Chang SA, Moon SD et al.

    Endocrine journal 2010;57;4;347-50

  • Signal initiation in biological systems: the properties and detection of transient extracellular protein interactions.

    Wright GJ

    Molecular bioSystems 2009;5;12;1405-12

  • A cell surface interaction network of neural leucine-rich repeat receptors.

    Söllner C and Wright GJ

    Genome biology 2009;10;9;R99

  • Large-scale screening for novel low-affinity extracellular protein interactions.

    Bushell KM, Söllner C, Schuster-Boeckler B, Bateman A and Wright GJ

    Genome research 2008;18;4;622-30

  • Lymphoid/neuronal cell surface OX2 glycoprotein recognizes a novel receptor on macrophages implicated in the control of their function.

    Wright GJ, Puklavec MJ, Willis AC, Hoek RM, Sedgwick JD et al.

    Immunity 2000;13;2;233-42

Wright, Gavin J
Gavin's Timeline

Sanger Institute


Postdoctoral studies, Cancer Research UK


D.Phil. University of Oxford