Current Research and Scholarly Interests
My laboratory studies the strategies pathogens utilize to colonize and subvert the epithelial barrier. We have focused on the epithelial junctions as a target for bacterial pathogens, since the cell-cell junctions serve as both a barrier to infection and also a major control site for epithelial function. In particular, we are interested in how the gastric pathogen Helicobater pylori may cause cancer by interfering with cell signaling at the epithelial junctions. We are also studying how various bacteria cross and invade the epithelium. For example, we recently found that Listeria monocytogenes targets a specialized subset of cell-cell junctions at the tip of the intestinal villi to find its receptor for invasion. We are interested in determining whether this mode of gastrointestinal invasion of the epithelium is also used by other gastrointestinal pathogens.