COLLOQUIUM: A sense of touch: mechanosensation in bacterial colonization and virulence

Speaker:  Dr. Albert Siryaporn, Princeton

Topic:  “A sense of touch: mechanosensation in bacterial colonization and virulence”

Time:  11:00 am, Monday, March 10, 2014

Place:  P-148 (refreshments will be served at 10:45 in P-145A)



Bacteria are well-adapted to detect and process signals from the environment. Our understanding of how bacteria make cell decisions stems largely from studies that focus on signals that are chemical in nature. However, mechanical forces have been largely unexplored as signaling cues. My work investigates how bacteria detect and respond to mechanical forces. This is particularly important in infection scenarios, where bacteria encounter forces generated by fluid flow and by attachment to host surfaces. I explore how fluid flow and surface adhesion regulate virulence and colonization factors in the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. My work shows that surface shear stress generated by fluid flow stimulates P. aeruginosa cells to move in the opposite direction of the flow. This has profound consequences on how bacterial cells spread once they enter an organism and underscores the need to revise current infection models. In addition, I explore how P. aeruginosa responds to forces associated with surface adhesion. My results suggest that P. aeruginosa uses surface adhesion as an host-independent cue to infect a broad range of hosts. Finally, I describe future work towards developing a quantitative and deterministic model of infection.


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