Bacteria-host interactions, bacterial toxins, Helicobacter pylori, and gastric cancer
Persistent bacterial infections, Immune evasion, gastric cancer, Helicobacter pylori, Bacterial toxins
Research projects in the Cover laboratory are focused on investigating molecular mechanisms by which pathogenic bacteria cause disease in humans. We are particularly interested in the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which contributes to the development of stomach cancer and peptic ulcer disease. H. pylori persistently colonizes the acidic gastric mucosa of humans, and persistent H. pylori colonization of the stomach results in chronic gastric inflammation. H. pylori is the only bacterial pathogen that commonly causes cancer in humans, and stomach cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide.
To investigate molecular mechanisms by which H. pylori causes disease, our laboratory uses a variety of molecular biology, cell biology, genomic, and immunologic methods. Current projects include (i) investigation of two H. pylori toxins (VacA and CagA) in cell culture and animal models, (ii) investigation of the H. pylori type IV secretion system that delivers CagA into gastric epithelial cells, (iii) investigation of mechanisms by which gene expression is regulated in H. pylori, and (iv) comparative genome sequence analysis of H. pylori strains isolated from patients with different disease states, with the goal of identifying new bacterial biomarkers that predict the development of gastric cancer.