Professor Jason King

School of Biosciences

Senior Research Fellow

Jason King
Profile picture of Jason King
  • 2015 - present Royal Society University Research Fellow
  • 2013 - present Advanced Vice-Chancellors Fellow, University of Sheffield
  • 2007 - 2013 Post-doctoral fellow. CR-UK Beatson Institute. Advisor: Prof. Robert Insall
  • 2003 - 2007 PhD. Cardiff University. Advisor: Prof Adrian Harwood.
  • 2000 - 2001 MPhil(res) University of Birmingham
  • 1996 - 1999 BSc Medical Biochemistry, University of Birmingham
Research interests

The main focus of the laboratory is to understand how cells perform macropinocytosis – the bulk capture of extracellular fluid. This plays important and distinct roles in diverse cell types such as macrophages, dendritic cells and neurons, by allowing cells to sample their environment and regulating membrane turnover. However macropinocytosis also allows cancer cells to scavenge the extracellular nutrients required to support their growth, and provides a route for pathogens and prions to enter host cells.

The diverse importance of macropinocytosis has only recently become clear, and both the formation and maturation of macropinosomes is poorly understood. My laboratory is thus trying to answer two fundamental questions:

  1. How do cells generate the cup-shaped protrusions required to entrap extracellular fluid?

  2. How are macropinosomes and phagosomes processed after internalisation?

Autophagy and lysosomal degradation pathways

Macroautophagy is a critical process used by cells to recycle nutrients to survive starvation, but also for protein and organelle homeostasis, cellular remodelling, and protection from pathogens and mis-folded proteins. Our primary aim is to understand the underlying mechanisms of autophagic degradation, how specific targets are recruited to autophagosomes, and how this integrates into the larger cellular context.

Our primary experimental system is the soil amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. This allows us to use powerful molecular techniques to dissect autophagy in a simple model system. In addition, as Dictyostelium exclusively use phagocytosis and macropinocytosis to take up nutrients, they are an excellent model for phagocytic immune cells and allow us to circumvent the experimental limitations of macrophages and neutrophils. We are therefore currently exploiting this system to understand immune cell interactions with a variety of bacterial and fungal pathogens.

King Lab website

Full publication details at: Google Scholar


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  • Royal Society
Teaching activities

I give lectures at both Level 2 (BMS242) and 3 (BMS376) on autophagy in health and disease, as well as support level 3 and 4, practical and dissertation modules.

Professional activities and memberships
  • Vice-Chair Gordon Research Seminar on Autophagy in Stress, Development and Disease 2012
  • Vice Chancellor’s Advanced Fellow
  • Associate editor BMC Cell Biology
  • Society for General Microbiology, Eukaryotic Division committee member
  • Dictybase Scientific advisory board member

We advertise PhD opportunities (Funded or Self-Funded) on

For further information and details of other projects on offer, please see the department PhD Opportunities page.