Faculty of Biological Sciences

Prof Richard Killington

BSc, PhD 1972, Birmingham
Emeritus Professor of Virology
School of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Background: SRC Post-doctoral Fellow, MRC Clinical Research Centre, Harrow, Lecturer at Leeds 1972-1983, Senior Lecturer at Leeds 1983-2003, (Research Associate, McMaster University 1979 sabbatical position), Head of Microbiology 2001-2004, Professor of Virology at Leeds 2003-present, Head of Biochemistry & Microbiology 2004-2005, Head of Infection and Immunity 2004-2006, Pro-Dean for Learning and Teaching 2007-present, Editorial Board: Future Virology, Awards: Society for General Microbiology 'Peter Wildy' Award for outstanding contribution to microbiology education 2004

Contact:  Off Campus, email address for  

Research Interests

Virus-host Interactions

Current Projects

Virus infection in vitro involves a highly complicated series of molecular interactions which begin with the attachment of the virus to a receptor site on the host cell. In many cases the specificity of the receptor determines the host and tissue tropism of the virus. Replication of virus, once penetration has been achieved, is again dependent on specific host factors.

For many viruses study in vivo has been impossible as the host tropism may be restricted to primate, or solely human tissues. Most rhinoviruses are in this category, attaching only to the human ICAM-1 receptor, thus severely inhibiting studies in animal models. We have thus attempted to create a transgenic mouse model which allows replication of rhinoviruses in the respiratory tract. To this end we have studied the in vitro replication of rhinoviruses at several levels in a number of different cell lines, particularly those of murine origin. Transgenic mice which contain the human ICAM-1 receptor and any other necessary requisite genes have been constructed, thus allowing studies on the host response and other parameters of infection by rhinoviruses. Studies led by Professor Seb Johnson at Imperial College have now confirmed the validity of the model (Nature Medicine).

More recent studies, again in collaboration with Professor Dave Rowlands and Dr Toby Tuthill (Leeds) and Professor Jim Hogle (Harvard Medical School), have concentrated on the use of liposomes to study both poliovirus and rhinovirus cell-entry mechanisms. These studies are ongoing.