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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Discovery of novel proteins that regulate microbe-host interactions

To combat infectious diseases, there has been a major effort to identify genes that are required for microbes to colonize animals and humans. Unfortunately, substantial effort is applied to study known genes in the host, rather than to focus on novel factors and how those gene products may hold the keys to blocking infectious diseases or promoting beneficial bacterial colonization.

This project seeks to identify patterns across data sets where similar proteins are required for colonization in diverse organisms and host systems as a novel approach to combat disease and discover new biology. A major advantage of the team’s approach is to extend beyond predictions to validate the significance of the findings with functional genetic studies in multiple microbe-animal systems. The integration of computational and experimental approaches will thereby reveal new protein functions and elucidate pathways required for bacteria to colonize animals and cause disease.


Mark Mandel, associate professor of medical microbiology and immunology



Claudia Solis-Lemus, assistant professor of plant pathology and affiliate with the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery



Anna Huttenlocher, professor of medical microbiology and immunology, and pediatrics

John-Demian Sauer, associate professor of medical microbiology and immunology

Jason Peters, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences