Mohlopheni Marakalala

Dr Mohlopheni Jackson Marakalala is a faculty member and Wellcome Trust intermediate fellow at AHRI, an associate professor at University College London’s division of infection and immunity, honorary research associate at the University of Cape Town (UCT), and visiting scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health department of immunology and infectious diseases.

Mohlopheni received his PhD in chemical pathology at UCT in 2008, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in innate immunity at UCT’s institute of infectious disease and molecular medicine. He joined Harvard in 2012 for a four-year postdoctoral fellowship in immunology and infectious diseases. In 2016 he rejoined UCT as a senior lecturer until his current appointment at AHRI and UCL.

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Mohlopheni Marakalala

Marakalala Group

Dr Mohlopeni Marakalala’s  group’s core interest is in developing TB biomarkers and host-directed therapies by studying factors associated with disease progression using lung tissue and blood samples from TB patients. He is also interested in cell death modalities in the mononuclear phagocyte system and their role in TB immunopathogenesis.

The group’s other focus is on understanding strategies utilized by Mycobacterium tuberculosis to subvert the host immune system.

Meet the Team

Thabo Mpotje  - Marakalala Group

Thabo Mpotje

Postdoctoral fellow

Thabo was awarded his PhD degree from the University of the Cape Town. His work focused on exploring a complex interrelationship between commensal microbiota, host’s genetic factor, and immune responses which presents a core piece of the regulatory machinery during chronic Schistosomiasis. Thabo is currently interested in identifying host factors that are associated with TB disease progression as potential targets for host-directed therapies.

Kimone Fisher  - Marakalala Group

Kimone Fisher

PhD student

Kimone is a PhD student at AHRI and is supported by the SAMRC Internship Scholarship Programme. Her PhD focusses on a unique cell death mechanism mediated by neutrophils in various TB disease states and their resulting contribution to TB pathology. Kimone will be identifying potential signatures for TB disease progression as well as targets for host directed therapies to reduce TB associated lung damage.

Denelle Moodley - Marakalala Group

Denelle Moodley

Laboratory technologist

Denelle Moodley holds a Master’s degree in Medical Science (Medical Biochemistry) from UKZN. Her Masters project focused on the antioxidant effect of a plant antimetabolite on hepatocellular carcinoma cells. Her work at AHRI focuses on understanding mechanisms underlying neutrophil-mediated cell death in granuloma development and TB pathogenesis.

Kerishka Rajkumar  - Marakalala Group

Kerishka Rajkumar

Laboratory technologist

Kerishka Rajkumar was awarded her Honours from Stellenbosch University. At AHRI, her Master’s project focused on the optimisation and use of the CRISPRi to target genes that may be involved in drug resistance. Her current work at AHRI involves targeting inflammatory mediators associated with lung pathological damage and TB disease progression for HDT (host-directed therapy) development.

Antony Rapulana - Marakalala Group

Antony Rapulana

Laboratory technologist

Antony Morwamoche Rapulana holds a BSc (Honours) in Medical Science from University of Limpopo and a MSc in Medicine specialising in Chemical Pathology from University of Cape Town. He joined the AHRI Diagnositic laboratory research group in January 2018 as Laboratory Technician and is currently doing his PhD with the University of KwaZulu-Natal focusing on the nucleic acids and blood-based biomarkers for early diagnosis of tuberculosis.

Selected Recent Publications

Marakalala MJ, Martinez FO, Plüddemann A, Gordon S. (2018). Macrophage Heterogeneity in the Immunophathogenesis of Tuberculosis. Front Microbiol. 23;9:1028. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.01028.

Parihar SP, Ozturk M, Marakalala MJ, Loots DT, Hurdayal R, Beukes D, Van Reenen M, Zak DE, Mbandi SK, Darboe F, Penn-Nicholson A, Hanekom WA, Leitges M, Scriba TJ, Guler R, Brombacher F. (2018). Protein kinase C-delta (PKCδ), a marker of inflammation and tuberculosis disease progression in humans, is important for optimal macrophage killing effector functions and survival in mice. Mucosal Immunol. 11(2):579-580. doi: 10.1038/mi.2017.108.

Marakalala MJ, Raju RM, Sharma K, Zhang YJ, Eugenin EA, Prideaux B, Daudelin IB, Chen P, Booty MG, Kim JH, Eum SY, Via LE, Behar SM, Barry III CE, Mann M, Dartois V, Rubin EJ. (2016). Inflammatory signaling in human Tuberculosis granulomas is spatially organized. Nature Medicine. 4. 22 (5): 531-538.

Wilson GJ, Marakalala MJ*, Hoving JC, van Laarhoven A, Drummond RA, Kerscher B, Keeton R, van de Vosse E, Ottenhoff THM, Plantinga TS, Alisjahbana B, Govender D, Besra GS, Netea MG, Reid DM, Willment JA, Jacobs M, Yamasaki S, van Crevel R, Brown GD. 2015. CLECSF8 (CLEC4D) is an essential component of anti-mycobacterial immunity . Cell Host Microbe. 2015;17(2):252-9 .

Mavrici D, Marakalala MJ, Holton JM, Prigozhin DM, Gee CL, Zhang YJ, Rubin EJ, Alber T. 2014. Mycobacterium tuberculosis FtsX extracellular domain activates the peptidoglycan hydrolase, RipC. PNAS. 2014;111(22):8037-42. .