Pathophysiology of staphylococci in the post-genomic era
Staphylococcus aureus is a dangerous pathogen, a leading cause of bacterial infection in hospitals and in the community world-wide. The micro-organism is a prominent example of the crisis of antibiotic resistance, one of the major threats to health in the 21st century. Despite extensive efforts, there is no effective anti-S. aureus vaccine.
At the same time, S. aureus is a fascinating model organism for the study of host-pathogen interaction. Each of us is exposed to the bacteria, often within the first hours of life. The encounters with the versatile micro-organism are multi-facetted, ranging from rapid elimination or symptom-less colonisation through mild skin infection to life threatening disease. S. aureus is equipped with an impressive assortment of fitness and virulence factors, including a wide variety of immune evasive compounds. Intricate regulation networks enable the bacteria to withstand hostile environmental conditions, such as nutrient limitation, oxidative stress or anaerobic conditions. In recent years, S. aureus has been increasingly recognised as a facultative intracellular pathogen. The bacteria can persist inside endothelial and epithelial cells and establish chronic infection.
The overarching objective of the CRC-TRR34 is a better understanding of the infection biology of S. aureus. The multiple dimensions of the topic call for an inter-disciplinary approach; its complexity requires new methodology. The consortium brings together bacteriologic and immunologic expertise with that in quantitative biomolecular analytics, structural biology, genomics, bioinformatics, haematology, and imaging. In the post-genomic era, the availability of whole genome sequences of S. aureus and its human host has paved the way for the comprehensive analysis of transcription profiles, proteins and metabolites. It is now possible to obtain “biological fingerprints” of bacterium and host at unprecedented detail. This opens avenues for a new quality in the understanding of cell physiology and infection biology. In the third funding period of the CRC-TRR34, the emphasis will be on the interplay between pathogen and host in S. aureus colonisation and infection, progressing from cell culture systems of increasing complexity to animal models of infection and studies with human subjects.
Prof. Dr. Barbara Bröker
Institut für Immunologie und Transfusionsmedizin
Phone +49 3834 865595
Fax +49 3834 865490
Prof. Dr. Andreas Peschel
Interfakultäres Institut für Mikrobiologie und Infektionsmedizin
Zelluläre und Molekulare Mikrobiologie
Phone +49 7071 2981515
Fax +49 7071 293435