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Joanne Ku

Postdoctoral Researcher, RG Diepold
MPI for Terrestrial Microbiology

Project: Elucidating the role of a conserved Type VI Secretion System - Type I Fimbriae system in host infection

Project summary:

Pathogens use secretion systems to inject effector proteins into eukaryotic host cells or compete with commensal bacteria. Several pathogenic bacteria have a peculiar type VI secretion system (T6SS), where a complete T6SS gene cluster is interspersed with genes encoding chaperone-usher type I fimbriae (T1F). Since fimbriae mediate adhesion to host cells, abiotic surfaces, or other bacteria, the strategic co-expression of T6SS and T1F may enable synergy between their functions. Leveraging on the sole presence of this T6SS-T1F cluster in Yersinia enterocolitica, this project aims to characterize the function and mechanism of action of the T6SS-T1F cluster during host infection.
To examine these virulence factors under close-to-physiological conditions, we will use differentiated intestinal epithelial transwell models and microfluidic gut-chip systems in collaboration with the groups of Prof. Victor Sourjik and Dr. Jing Yuan. Our experiments will provide new insights on the function of T6SS, T1F, and their interaction in the pathogenesis of Y. enterocolitica, and might serve as a model for similar systems.

 Cooperation with:  Victor Sourjik (MPI-TM), Jing Yuan (MPI-TM)