James Stafford

Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences
Associate Chair (Graduate)

Contact

Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences
Email
stafford@ualberta.ca
Phone
(780) 492-9258
Address
CW-330 & CW-332 Bio Science - Centre Wing
11355 - Saskatchewan Drive
Edmonton AB
T6G 2E9

Associate Chair (Graduate)
Email
stafford@ualberta.ca

Overview

About

BSc

Medical Laboratory Sciences, University of Alberta

PhD

Physiology and Cell Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta

Postdoc

University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS, USA


Research

Innate immunity is an essential component of the vertebrate antimicrobial defense system. This protection depends on the integrated activity of highly specialized immune cell-types that are responsible for the recognition and clearance of pathogens. One of these fundamental innate cell responses is called phagocytosis (immune cell eating), which involves dynamic remodeling of the plasma membrane during the capture and ingestion of extracellular material.

Phagocytosis is an ancient cellular process that was established for simple nutrient acquisition in primitive unicellular organisms, but has since evolved into a complex immune defense response utilized by all multicellular animals. Cells that perform phagocytosis are collectively known as phagocytes and their unique ability to engulf large (>0.5 ┬Ám) particulate targets is dependent on the expression of distinct immune receptor-types. The best-characterized phagocytic receptors include the mammalian complement receptors (CR), dectin-1, and members of the Fc receptor (FcR) family. Studies from these model immune proteins have identified phagocytosis as a temporally coordinated process that tightly regulates plasma membrane remodelling events during the capture, ingestion, and eventual destruction of microbes. Each phagocytic receptor-type relays extracellular target binding into dynamic filamentous (F)-actin-mediated remodelling of the plasma membrane through specific intracellular signaling events. Despite the recognized diversity in receptor-mediated phagocytic signaling, phagocytic pathways generally require tyrosine kinase activity, localized phospholipid metabolism, activation of Rho-family small GTPases, and the engagement of various actin nucleation and regulatory factors. Importantly, the molecular components that regulate phagocytosis are also vital for many other biological responses, including: cell adhesion and migration, wound repair, and the clearance of debris from tissues. As a result, phagocytosis is not only an excellent model for studying receptor-mediated signaling events in immunity, but also for investigating fundamental aspects of the regulatory machinery involved in the control of plasma membrane dynamics.

Despite an in-depth understanding of phagocytosis in mammals, very little is currently known in basal vertebrates. Interestingly, there are more than 25,000 known species of teleost fishes that thrive in diverse aquatic ecosystems populated with numerous bacterial, parasitic, and viral pathogens. Fish exhibit robust innate immune mechanisms that deal with this continuous assault, including phagocytosis, but how these responses are specifically regulated in ectothermic vertebrates is largely unknown. Genome sequencing has recently revealed a vast inventory of fish immune genes, including a large number and diversity of immune receptor-types. However, the functional roles played by these teleost receptor proteins remains to be determined. In an effort to understand conserved and divergent aspects of innate immune processes across vertebrates, my research has focused on the characterization of channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) leukocyte immune-type receptors (IpLITRs). These efforts have recently uncovered new details regarding teleost immunoregulatory-mediated signaling pathways and their functional capabilities.

My ongoing research program uses IpLITR proteins as an innate receptor model system to study immunregulatory receptor signaling events in vertebrates. Please see Featured Publications and the Stafford LAB page for further details about our research.

Courses

BIOL 298 - Understanding Biological Research

An introduction to the process of scientific research including the different approaches to research within biology, formulating research questions, hands-on skill development, experimental design, data collection and analysis, critical thinking, communication of findings, ethics, and career opportunities. Students will attend lectures and selected seminars, and participate in biological research under the supervision of an academic staff member in the Department of Biological Sciences. Open to undergraduate students in the Faculty of Science with preference given to students in Honors and Specialization Programs in the Department of Biological Sciences, and BSc General students (Biological Sciences major). Consent of Department of Biological Sciences required. All students must apply for admission. Prerequisite: BIOL 107 or 108 or SCI 100. See the Biological Sciences website for more details at www.biology.ualberta.ca/courses.


IMIN 371 - Introduction to Immunology

Survey course introducing the student to immunological concepts. Topics include the clonal selection theory, antibody structure and specificity, genetic basis of immune diversity, antibody-antigen reactions, cell interactions in immune responses, the molecular basis of non-self recognition, MHC molecules and transplantation, tolerance, effector mechanism of immunity, hypersensitivity and immunodeficiency. Prerequisites: BIOCH 200 or 205, BIOL 207, and IMIN 200. May not be taken for credit if credit already obtained in INT D 371. (Offered jointly by the Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology.) [Biological Sciences]


IMIN 372 - Research Techniques in Immunology

A lecture and laboratory course covering theory and practice behind selected immunological techniques. Techniques covered may include: lymphocyte isolation, flow cytometry, mixed lymphocyte reactions, immunocytochemistry, immunoprecipitation, ELISA, western blotting, expression cloning and monoclonal antibody technology. Labs will sometimes require students to return the next day to check on plates or cultures. Prerequisite: IMIN 371. May not be taken for credit if credit already obtained in INT D 372. (Offered jointly by the Departments of Biological Sciences and Medical Microbiology and Immunology). [Biological Sciences]


IMIN 405 - Innate Immunity

This course covers topics of innate immunity with emphasis on strategies for pathogen recognition, local and systemic activation of the innate immune response, and regulation of innate effector mechanisms. Innate defense strategies against pathogens as well as detection and elimination of tumors will also be covered. Lectures will be followed by active discussions of selected readings pertaining to current research in the subject area. Prerequisites: IMIN 371. Credit cannot be obtained for both IMIN 405 and 505. (Offered jointly by the Departments of Biological Sciences and Medical Microbiology and Immunology). [Biological Sciences].


IMIN 505 - Advanced Innate Immunity

This course covers topics of innate immunity with emphasis on strategies for pathogen recognition, local and systemic activation of the innate immune response, and regulation of innate effector mechanisms. Innate defense strategies against pathogens as well as detection and elimination of tumors will also be covered. Lectures will be followed by active discussions of selected readings pertaining to current research in the subject area. Lectures and graded discussions are the same as for IMIN 405 but with evaluation appropriate for graduate students. Prerequisites: consent of instructor. Credit cannot be obtained for both IMIN 405 and 505. (Offered jointly by the Departments of Biological Sciences and Medical Microbiology and Immunology). [Biological Sciences].


ZOOL 242 - Animal Physiology II: Intercellular Communication

Endocrinology, immunology and neural, sensory, motor, and reproductive physiology. Examples from invertebrates and vertebrates. Prerequisite: BIOL 107 or SCI 100. This course may not be taken for credit if credit has been obtained in PHYSL 210 or 214.


ZOOL 452 - Topics in Parasitology

Experimental approaches to the study of parasitism, including topics on epidemiology, ecology, biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, pathology, and immunology of host-parasite relationships. Reading assignments emphasize experimental approaches to study eukaryotic host-parasite relationships. Prerequisite: ZOOL 352 or MMI 426 or consent of instructor. Credit cannot be obtained for both ZOOL 452 and 552.


ZOOL 552 - Advanced Topics in Parasitology

Experimental approaches to the study of parasitism, including topics on epidemiology, ecology, biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, pathology, and immunology of host-parasite relationships. Reading assignments emphasize experimental approaches to study eukaryotic host-parasite relationships. Lectures are the same as for ZOOL 452, but with additional assignments and evaluation appropriate to graduate studies. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Credit cannot be obtained for both ZOOL 452 and 552.


Browse more courses taught by James Stafford

Featured Publications

Stafford JL, Bengten E, Du Pasquier L, McIntosh RD, Quiniou SM, Clem LW, Miller NW

Immunogentics. 58 (9):758-773


Montgomery BCS, Mewes J, Davidson C, Burshtyn DN, Stafford JL

Developmental & Comparative Immunology. 33 (4):570-582


Montgomery BC, Cortes HD, Burshtyn DN, Stafford JL

Developmental & Comparative Immunology. 37 (1):151-163


Stafford JL, Bengten E, Du Pasquier L, Miller NW, Wilson M

Immunogentics. 59 (1):77-91


Fei C, Lillico DME, Hall B, Rieger AM, Stafford JL

Cytometry Part A.


Cortes HD, Montgomery BC, Verheijen K, Garcia-Garcia E, Stafford JL

Developmental & Comparative Immunology. 36 (1):62-73


Stafford JL, Wilson M, Nayak D, Quiniou SM, Clem LW, Miller NW, Bengten M

The Journal of Immunology. 177 (4):2505-2517


Zwozdesky MA, Fei C, Lillico DME, Stafford JL

Developmental & Comparative Immunology. 67


Cortes HD, Lillico DME, Zwozdesky MA, Pemberton JG, O'Brien A, Montgomery BCS, Wiersma, L, Chang JP, Stafford JL

Journal of Innate Immunity. 6


Fei C, Pemberton JG, Lillico DME, Zwozdesky MA, Stafford JL

Biology. 5 (1):13


Montgomery BCS, Cortes HD, Mewes-Ares J, Verheijen K, Stafford JL

Developmental & Comparative Immunology. 35 (12):1223-1237


Mewes J, Verheijen J, Montgomery BCS, Stafford JL

Molecular Immunology. 47 (2):318-331


Lillico DME, Zwozdesky MA, Pemberton JG, Deutscher JM, Jones LO, Chang JP, Stafford JL

Journal of Leukocyte Biology. 98 (2):235-248


Lillico DME, Pemberton JG, Stafford JL

Developmental & Comparative Immunology. 65