There is increasing evidence that as part of their residence in the oral cavity several pathogens are capable of interaction and invasion of oral epithelial cells. We have several projects running examining various aspects of the interaction between bacteria and human cells.
Identification of novel bacterial genes involved in virulence
Our previous work performed with Professor Ian Douglas and Dr Simon Whawell identified bistable invasive populations of P. gingivalis that retained the ability to hyper-invade human cells in vitro for several generations. These bacterial sub-types also displayed a distinctive set of genes that were up and down regulated when the transcriptome was analysed (Suwannakul et al., 2010). We are now performing a systematic mutagenesis programme to examine some of these invasive signature genes to examine their role in cell adhesion and invasion. This work is currently being pursued by Kate Naylor.
Investigation of host microRNA responses to infection
An increasing body of evidence suggests that human non-coding microRNA control several aspects of the innate immune response to bacterial infection. We are using human oral cells and periodontal bacteria as a model system to examine this important phenomenon using a range of molecular and cell biology techniques. This work is funded by a grant by the Dunhill Medical Trust and is a joint project between myself, Dr Dan Lambert (PI) and Professor Ian Douglas. This project is currently seeking funding, please contact Drs Lambert or Stafford (Prachi) for enquiries.
Investigation of role of sialic acid in host interaction of periodontal pathogens
Our work revealing the importance of sialic acid and sialidase enzymes to the physiology of the periodontal pathogen T. forsythia has spurred our general interest in the role of this important biomolecule in host interactions of periodontal pathogens. We are currently pursuing a number of avenues, some in collaboration with Professor Ashu Sharma and Dr Kiyo Honma at U Buffalo, to investigate the host receptors, sugar ligands, and adhesive properties associated with sialic acid. This work was initially funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust but is currently being pursued by Andy Frey. There are often PhD projects in this area and enquiries are welcome, paticularly for funded students. We are actively seeking talented Postdoctoral researchers to apply for funding in areas related to our work. We would be particularly interested in seeking expertise on glycan profiling analysis.