Mechanisms of pathogenesis for Enterococcus
My research laboratory is interested in understanding the mechanisms of pathogenesis for the opportunistic bacterial pathogen, Enterococcus faecalis. This organism now ranks as a leading cause of hospital acquired infection, causing a variety of infections ranging from urinary tract infection, bacteremia and wound infection to life threatening endocarditis. These infections are often difficult to treat due to the presence of multiple antibiotic resistances. One of the virulence properties of the organism of interest is the production of capsular polysaccharide. The presence of the capsule enhances the organism’s ability to persist in the host at sites of infection. The capsule is considered to be anti-phagocytic allowing the bacterium to escape killing by neutrophils in the absence of capsule specific antibodies. We are interested in determining the underlying genetic pathways related to the regulation and production of capsule, with the goal of identifying candidate targets for the development of new anti-infectives. We are also examining biofilm formation by this organism to determine those factors essential to this developmental process. Biofilms are aggregates of bacteria attached to a solid surface and are thought to be the primary mode of growth during infection. Understanding the basis for biofilm formation will allow us to target those key factors with the goal of disrupting a process vital to the organism’s ability to cause disease.
Abstracts this author is presenting: