Campylobacter jejuni demonstrates specific binding to host epithelial cells
C. jejuni are stained red, host cell microfilaments are stained green, and cell nuclei are stained blue.
Improving Human and Animal Health through Understanding of Disease
Campylobacter species are the most common culture-proven cause of bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide, accounting for 400 – 500 million cases of diarrhea each year. In developed countries, particular strains of C. jejuni correlates with a higher incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome, reactive arthritis, and/or post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome. In low- and middle-income countries, C. jejuni infections result in malnourishment and stunted growth (reduced height). Additionally, reports of antibiotic-resistant Campylobacter continue to increase and fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter spp. have been added to the World Health Organization priority list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, studies dissecting the fundamental mechanisms of C. jejuni virulence factors and their contribution to disease in a susceptible host are sparse.
Dr. Mike Konkel is a professor in the School of Molecular Biosciences at Washington State University. The Konkel research group focuses on the characterization of host-C. jejuni interactions. Biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, and high throughput genomic/proteomic approaches are currently being used to understand the unique virulence factors that contribute to the pathogenesis of this facultative intracellular bacterium. One of our current aims is to identify and dissect the mechanism of cell binding and entry-promoting proteins used by C. jejuni to cause disease. To this extent, we have identified several bacterial adhesins and secreted effector proteins. Dr. Konkel’s research is supported by a grant from the NIH.