Project Details


There is an abundance of bacterial species with which we live in close symbiosis with. Although
some bacterial species are essential for our survival other pathogenic species are a direct threat to
our health. In order to colonize or infect their host, they all have in common that they typically
need to adhere to various surfaces inside humans. Common adhesion targets include cell surface
molecules like integrins or other receptors, as well as components of the extracellular matrix, like
fibronectin or collagen. As adhesion is the first meeting between pathogen and host cell it is an
important process to study for an increased understanding of bacterial infections.
Since we have evolved together with bacteria, both humans and bacteria have adapted over time.
A consequence of co-evolution is that there will be factors in both host and bacteria that are critical
for adhesion. Many of these factors are poorly understood or undefined. Here, we want to use
recent antibody, genetic, and microscopy-based technology to carefully characterize bacterial
adhesion to human cells and identify critical factors for these processes. The human commensal
and pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes together with its surface M protein will be used as a model
system to explore these mechanisms. As the project progresses, and in an attempt to generalize
findings, other proteins and bacteria will be considered.

The goal of this project is to use recently developed antibody generation technologies in
combination with advanced microscopy tools to carefully measure the requirements for bacterial
adhesion to human cells, with a special focus on host factors. A quantitative molecular
understanding of how bacteria adhere to human cells will improve overall mechanistic insight of
bacterial infections as well as potentially provide new therapeutic targets.
Effective start/end date2021/02/08 → …