We carry out fundamental research on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of bacterial intracellular parasitism and on microbial genomics and the evolution of bacterial virulence. The group also aims to exploit research results to inform translational studies for improving the detection and treatment of bacterial diseases. Our work focuses on two organisms which replicate within host cells. Listeria monocytogenes is a major food-borne human pathogen and is a model intracellular parasite which invades non-phagocytic cells and replicates in the cytosol. Most of our work on Listeria revolves around the central virulence gene regulator, PrfA, and the role of its virulence regulon in intracellular survival and proliferation. More recently, we became also interested Rhodococcus equi. This actinomycete is a multihost pathogen which causes a major respiratory disease in horses and is an emerging opportunistic human pathogen. It survives within macrophages, replicates in a vacuole and may be considered as a useful model for TB research. Both Listeria and R. equi are facultative intracellular parasites, meaning that their biology involves determinants and pathways (and genome expression programmes) for both environmental and within-host survival/proliferation. Major research topics within the group are: i) virulence gene regulation; ii) mechanisms of tissue and cell tropism; iii) nutritional determinants of intracellular parasitism; iv) modulation of host cell responses by bacterial lipolytic enzymes; v) molecular/genomic epidemiology and the evolution of virulence.
Raul Miranda-CasoLuengo, Garry B. Coulson, Aleksandra Miranda-CasoLuengo, Jose A. Vazquez-Boland, Mary K. Hondalus, Wim G. Meijer. 2012. The Hydroxamate Siderophore Rhequichelin Is Required for Virulence of the Pathogenic Actinomycete Rhodococcus equi. Infection and Immunity Vol: 80 Pages: 4106-4114. More»
Michal Letek, Alain A Ocampo-Sosa, Mandy Sanders, Ursula Fogarty, Tom Buckley, Desmond P Leadon, Patricia González, Mariela Scortti, Wim G Meijer, Julian Parkhill, Stephen Bentley, José A Vázquez-Boland. 2008. Evolution of the Rhodococcus equi vap pathogenicity island seen through comparison of host-associated vapA and vapB virulence plasmids. Journal of Bacteriology Vol: 190 Pages: 5797-805. More»
Caroline Deshayes, Magdalena K Bielecka, Robert J Cain, Mariela Scortti, Aitor de Las Heras, Zbigniew Pietras, Ben F Luisi, Ricardo Núñez Miguel, José A Vázquez-Boland. 2012. Allosteric mutants show that PrfA activation is dispensable for vacuole escape but required for efficient spread and Listeria survival in vivo. Molecular Microbiology Vol: 85 Pages: 461-477. More»
Michal Letek, Patricia Gonzalez, Iain MacArthur, Hector Rodriguez, Tom C. Freeman, Ana Valero Rello, Monica Blanco, Tom Buckley, Inna Cherevach, Ruth Fahey, Alexia Hapeshi, Jolyon Holdstock, Desmond Leadon, Jesus Navas, Alain Ocampo, Michael A. Quail, Mandy Sanders, Mariela M. Scortti, John F. Prescott, Ursula Fogarty, Wim G. Meijer, Julian Parkhill, Stephen D. Bentley, Jose A. Vazquez-Boland. 2010. The Genome of a Pathogenic Rhodococcus: Cooptive Virulence Underpinned by Key Gene Acquisitions. PLoS Genetics Vol: 6 Pages: -. More»