Molecular Characterization of E. coli that cause Urinary Tract Infection (2007–2009)

The long term goals of the proposed research are to understand the processes by which uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) cause acute, recurrent and chronic infections and to identify new UPEC targets for therapeutic intervention. Urinary tract infections (UTI) are among the most common infectious diseases of humans and a major cause of morbidity and mortality. In the USA, UTI accounts for more than 1 million hospitalizations and $1.6 billion in medical expenditures each year. It is estimated that one in four women and one in twenty men will develop a UTI in their lifetime. The recurrence rate is high and no treatment other than antibiotics (often inefficient) is currently available. UPEC are the primary cause of UTI. In the last grant period, we focused on the molecular interplay that exists between different surface adhesins of UPEC. We succeeded in demonstrating functional interference between adhesins, motility organelles, aggregation factors and the capsule. We also discovered and partially characterized several novel UPEC adhesins that may play a role in pathogenesis. We established two novel technology sets: a mouse model of ascending UTI and the flow chamber biofilm model. In the next grant period, we will build on these concepts and experimental systems to gain a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying UPEC virulence. We will characterize the role of several novel UPEC surface proteins in cell adhesin, aggregation, biofilm formation and colonization of the mouse urinary tract. We will employ an integrated approach that combines a powerful bacterial genetic system, a biofilm model, a mouse UTI model, microscopy and tissue culture systems to reveal the cellular, molecular, and structural basis for the pathogenesis of UTI. The work will facilitate the development of new vaccine approaches to prevent UTI, such as novel mechanisms for strain attenuation and vaccine design. The burden of UTI disease demands such research endeavours.
Grant type:
NHMRC Project Grant
  • Professorial Research Fellow & Grou
    Institute for Molecular Bioscience
    School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
    Faculty of Science
Funded by:
National Health and Medical Research Council