Emeritus Professor Ian Young

ANU College of Health and Medicine

Areas of expertise

  • Respiratory Diseases 110203
  • Signal Transduction 060111
  • Allergy 110701
  • Genetically Modified Animals 100104
  • Cellular Immunology 110704
  • Biochemistry And Cell Biology 0601

Research interests

My research interests centre on the cytokines interleukin-3 (IL-3), interleukin-5 (IL-5), and granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), which have overlapping activities on hematopoietic cells. They appear to be primarily involved in inducible hematopoiesis in response to infections and in the pathogenesis of allergic and inflammatory diseases. In allergic responses, IL-3 and IL-5 play critical roles role in the expansion of basophils and eosinophils respectively. GM-CSF has an important role in macrophage differentiation.

Our initial work was on the cloning of mouse IL-3 and human IL-5 and the determination of cytokine gene structure and organization. Subsequently, we used IL-5-deficient mice to study the role of IL-5 and eosinophils in allergic inflammation in asthma and parasite infections and determined the mechanisms regulating IL-5 expression by human and mouse T cells. We next investigated the structural biology of cytokine receptor signalling. The X-ray structure of the human beta common receptor involved in IL-3, IL-5 and GM-CSF signalling was published in Cell in 2001. We showed that the receptor had a unique structure being an intertwined dimer before activation and that it possesses a novel ligand binding site involving domains 1 and 4 of the respective protein chains of the dimer. More recently, we have identified a second isoform of the IL-3 receptor and are currently characterizing the two modes of IL-3 receptor activation and signalling. We are also studying the role of transcription factors and microRNAs in cytokine-supported differentiation of myeloid progenitors to inflammatory cells and will use the knowledge gained to explore new ways of controlling inflammation in asthma. Overexpression of IL-3Ra occurs in AML and we will investigate if aberrant IL-3 signalling is important in AML pathogenesis. We are currently collaborating with the Fujian Medical University in China which is a centre for leukemia treatment.

Researcher's projects

Cytokine-driven allergic inflammation: characterization of two isoform-specific modes of IL-3 receptor activation and investigation of new receptor-associated signalling partners.

Targeting miRNA to inhibit leukocyte differentiation as a new anti-inflammatory approach to the treatment of asthma.


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Updated:  20 May 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers