Host-Microbe Interactions Project
Complex interactions between symbiotic or pathogenic microbes and the hosts they colonize are essential to both health and disease. Many of these interactions are mediated by glycans, or complex sugars that decorate cell membranes, and free oligosaccharides, or the complex sugars that are present as free molecules in biological fluids. The overall goal of this research project is to understand the complex interactions between specific commensal and pathogenic bacteria and the human or animal host mucosal surfaces such as the gastrointestinal tract. Research includes the identification of bacterial adhesion molecules and host cell surface receptors that mediate adhesion and/or invasion of human cells, comparative gene expression profiling during adhesion and invasion, characterization of changes in host cell glycans upon infection, and studies of the modulation of host-microbe interactions using glycans found in human milk or other food matrices.