Research

We are investigating RNA-protein interactions of host cells during infection by pathogenic bacteria

Post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression plays an important role in the cells’ repertoire to respond to external stimuli or stress. RNA-protein complexes (RNPs) are the key players of this regulatory level; being involved in RNA-transport, translation, RNA modification and many other processes. But although host-pathogen interactions have been intensively studied in cells, we have poor knowledge about the impact of a pathogen on this aspect of gene regulation.

Host-pathogen

We are using classical molecular biology methods in combination with systems biology approaches and bioinformatics to investigate RNA-protein interactions in infected cells.

Our research is focused on the following topics:

  • We are interested to understand the post-transcriptional response of a host cell upon infection. Applying state-of-the-art systems biology approaches such as mRNA interactome capture, we will analyse how infection with e.g. Salmonella Typhimurium impacts (m)RNP composition in macrophages of human and mouse hosts.

Host-response

  • During bacterial infection, pathogens utilise specialised secretion systems such as the Type III or Type IV Secrection System (T3SS/T4SS) to ‘inject’ bacterial effector proteins into the host cell. These effectors hijack cellular defense pathways of innate immunity and allow the pathogen to survive in macrophages and other cell types. It remains unclear if RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) are among these effectors. We are searching for such cross-species RNA-protein interactions and we are interested to learn if such bacterial RBPs are also able to interfer with the hosts’ posttranscriptional response to the infection.