Host-pathogen interactions

pgThe cellular microbiology research within the oral disease group examines the molecular mechanisms by which several pathogens interact with human cells. Our focus is upon both the immune response to bacterial challenge, particularly at the  innate immune level, considering the influence of microRNAs and the glycobiology of pathogens in this process.  This site alongside work on the fundamental mechanisms of bacterial invasion into human cells. This is considered a mechanism by which micro-organisms might evade the host immune response. Understanding these key processes in infection is key to both understanding the disease process and, therefore to developing novel therapeutic strategies to prevent infection.

Our work focuses on investigation of interaction with epithelial cells (mucosal) and endothelial cells (blood vessels). Invasion of oral epithelial cells by periodontal pathogens, such as Porphyromonas gingivalis and Tannerella forsythia might be particularly important for their persistence in the mouth and for disease progression. We have also recently developed 3D-tissue and zebrafish models of infection for these pathogens to examine their role in  disease.


zeb Our recent work on periodontal pathogens addition uncovered a key role for sialic acid in the interaction of Tannerella forsythia with host glycoproteins and human cells in research conducted with collaborators at the University at Buffalo, USA and BOKU at Vienna, Austria. We also focus on the on the relationship between P. gingivalis gingipains with Integrin alpha 5 beta 1 and hypinvasion capability in relation to cell cycle.

We are employing a range of microbiological and molecular techniques that utlilise our extensive cell-culture, fluorescence microscopy and molecular biology facilities. These include the use of  molecular tools (proteomics, transcriptomics, genomics) of invading bacteria and host cell responses.

Studies of endothelial cell interactions by Candida albicans are being developed under specially developed experimental conditions of flow which mimic the environment in the blood circulation. With collaborators strains where the virulence and morphogenesis of the Candida can be controlled are being studied under these flow conditions. In addition we are now i using zebrafish embryos as a model for Candidal infections.

Research contacts:

Professor Emeritus I. Douglas

Dr Daniel Lambert

Dr C. Murdoch

Dr G. Stafford, Stafford Group webpage

Professor M. Thornhill

Dr S. Whawell

Dr Joey Shepherd