Biomedical Research Center SAS
Host cell interaction with Coxiella burnetii: identification and utilization of novel therapeutic and diagnostic targets
Name of the supervisor
Ing. Ľudovít Škultéty, DrSc.
Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University in Bratislava
Coxiella burnetii is an intracellular bacterial pathogen causing human infections of clinical and public health relevance. Like many other bacterial pathogens, Coxiella uses specialized secretion systems to manipulate eukaryotic host cells by injecting effectors (bacterial virulence proteins and small molecules). However, current knowledge about how these pathogens establish infection is limited. This project's primary research commitment is the characterization of the functions of effector proteins from Coxiella burnetii. The project's specific objectives include: 1) the description of the host cell signaling pathways targeted by effectors (proteins and small molecules) of Coxiella burnetii; 2) the characterization of the molecular and cellular mode of action of the effectors, and 3) a putative correlation between the mode of action of the effectors to their sequence variability and expression amongst different strains. The anticipated results may lead to the discovery of novel therapeutic approaches-drug targets- and could help in the design of vaccines and novel diagnostics. In particular, the host signaling pathways altered by one (or more) effector(s) will be promising candidates as novel therapeutic targets. Furthermore, the knowledge gained could also lead to identifying inhibitors targeting the pathogen's effectors directly and help design specific drugs that can block the pathogen's secretion system.