Structure-function relationships of bacteriophages and Type IV pili in Vibrio cholerae (completed)
Vibrio cholerae is the cause of cholera in humans, a disease affecting 3-5 million people and causing 100,000-130,000 deaths worldwide every year. In this project we are engaged in understanding the molecular mechanisms of horizontal transfer of genes encoding virulence factors in pathogenic bacteria. The focus of the research project is on interaction between Type IV pili and bacteriophages, of which the CTX phage is known to encode cholera toxin, and to require TCP, a type IV pilus, to infect Vibrio choleae, thereby leading to these organisms turning toxic to humans.
Principal investigator: Associate professor Hanne Winther-Larsen
Project: Structure-function relationship of bacteriophages and Type IV pili
Stud. Vet. Kristian Franer
Here we are engaged in understanding the molecular mechanisms of horizontal transfer of genes encoding virulence factors in pathogenic bacteria. The focus of the research projects is on interaction between Type IV pili and bacteriophages. Although interactions between bacteriophages and bacteria have played critical roles in the evolution of several pathogens there is very little knowledge of the basic mechanisms underlying the role of the pilus in phage infectivity. We use the bacterium Vibrio choleræ, the agent of cholera, as a modell. The phage that encodes cholera toxin, CTX phage, required TCP, a type IV pilus, to infect Vibrio choleræ and thereby render this organisms toxigenic. For these studies we are taking an imaging approach using immuno-microscopical techniques.
Howard Hughes Member Professor Matthew Waldor (Channing Laboratories, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA). Vibrio choleræ infection biology.
Assistant Professor Lisa Craig (Simon Fraser University, Canada). CTXphi-Tcp structure/function relationship.