Laboratory of Structural Microbiology

Images of protein structures of bacterial virulence factors
Images of protein structures of bacterial virulence factors, the diffraction patterns from crystals used to obtain them,
and the electron density (blue mesh) that serves as the data into which a chemical model is “built” for the molecule.

Molecular Mechanisms of Bacterial Virulence

Video: Cytotoxin from Helicobacter pylori

Bacterial pathogens have extensively co-evolved with their hosts, displaying remarkably sophisticated adaptations, often culminating in intricate biochemical interactions between the microbe and eukaryotic cells. Bacterial virulence factors and toxins are now known to manipulate host processes spanning cytoskeletal assembly to cell cycle progression. Employing techniques from biochemistry, cellular microbiology, and X-ray crystallography, we study the molecular mechanisms of this pathogen-host interaction. Using protein structure as a foundation, our primary focus is on understanding the mechanisms by which bacterial virulence proteins modulate the host. Such studies will provide a framework for an understanding of bacterial pathogenesis at the molecular level and for the design of novel antibacterials.