We are interested in understanding how mast cells recognize beneficial and pathogenic microbes to maintain tissue homeostasis and educate the immune system. Our lab uses an interdisciplinary approach that combines mouse and microbial genetics, receptor pharmacology, sequencing, multiparameter flow cytometry, microscopy, and infection models to elucidate how the G protein-coupled receptors expressed by mast cells act as sensors of the communication between host and microbes. Our ultimate goal is to guide fundamental knowledge necessary for developing next-generation therapeutics for infectious and inflammatory diseases.Learn More
A key focus of the group is on the protein degradation machinery that helps to maintain proper level of proteins (protein homeostasis) in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of TB, the world's single largest infectious killer that is annually responsible for 1.5 million deaths. The questions we aim to answer are:
1) What is the assembly mechanism of the M. tuberculosis proteasome core particle and its regulatory particles?
2) What is the role of allostery and long-range interactions in the machinery that tags substrates for proteasomal degradation?
3) How are substrates selected for tagging and degradation?
4) What is the molecular basis of antibiotics that operate by disrupting proteasomal protein degradation?
Research in my laboratory is focused on the architecture and assembly of the cell surfaces of pathogenic bacteria. Current areas of emphasis are:
1) Structure and function of multi-enzyme complexes required for the export of capsular polysaccharides through the periplasm and across the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria.
2) Structural basis for substrate recognition by ABC transporters involved in the export of bacterial cell-surface polysaccharides.
3) Structure and function studies of prokaryotic glycosyltransferase enzymes.
4) Mechanisms that couple glycan biosynthesis and chain extension to transport pathways.
My research group focuses on the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of Lyme disease. I focus on different topics within this research theme, including: 1) the various forms that Borrelia (Lyme bacteria) can adopt and their corresponding role in the expression of the disease; 2) the effects of people and bacteria genetics in the expression of of the disease; 3) the development of new diagnostic tools; and, 4) the interactions that people diagnosed with Lyme disease have with the medical system.Learn More
My research is in the general area of protein structure and dynamics and is specifically focused on the biochemistry of bacterial toxins involved in disease and consists of the following projects: Membrane structure of the colicin E1 ion channel; data mining and bioinformatics of bacterial virulence factors; optical spectroscopic approaches to study protein structure and dynamics; enzyme reaction mechanism of the bacterial mono-ADP-ribosyltransferase family; inhibition mechanisms and structural complexes of toxins with inhibitors; and, X-ray structures of protein-protein complexes involving toxins.Learn More
We currently have several projects in various areas that explore aspects of the gut microbiome and beyond:
1) Understanding how gut microbes are involved in the modulation of disease in colorectal cancer, diabetes, infection, and inflammatory bowel diseases
2) Isolation and characterisation of hunter-gatherer people's gut microbiome in an effort to discover novel microbial species and understand their function
3) Characterisation of the non-bacterial microbes of the human microbiome and their functions
4) Building model systems to study human gut microbes in vitro and in vivo
5) The study of 'oncomicrobes' (in particular, Fusobacterium nucleatum), and the development of colorectal cancer.
6) Translation to the clinic - development of 'microbial ecosystem therapeutics'
We use the budding yeast S.cerevisiae as a model organism to ask how established chromatin structure is preserved or changed during repetitive rounds of DNA replication, and how these structures are transmitted to daughter cells. We study the activity of chromatin factors that are highly conserved in all eukaryotes. Our specific focus is on cell-to-cell variations in gene expression. Most of these variations are mediated by chromatin. We know little about the mechanisms that confer these changes.Learn More
For bacteria, survival requires evading detection. Pathogens must evade their host, but all bacteria need to avoid being targeted by phages. Gram negative bacteria’s survival depends on lipopolysaccharide and capsule – highly complex carbohydrate molecules that coat their outer surface. The enzymes that produce these molecules are complex, drawing on a large set of basic modules but then tweaking and combining them into new organizations that accomplish unique ends. My lab is focused on understanding how the structures and large-scale architectures of these enzymes create the enormous variety of unique custom carbohydrates observed in nature. To this end, we use crystallography, enzymology, and a variety of biophysical assays and bioinformatics tools to better understand these proteins.Learn More
Dr. Heyland's laboratory uses novel functional genomics approaches to study the endocrine and neuroendocrine systems of aquatic invertebrates. Specifically he investigates the function and evolution of hormonal and neurotransmitter signaling systems in the regulation of development and metamorphosis. His research includes evolutionary development studies of marine invertebrate metamorphosis, eco-toxicogenomic approached to understand endocrine disruption in aquatic ecosystems and water remediation technologies. These projects are integrated with several national and international collaborations ranging form basic scientific work to industry partnerships.Learn More
In the next 5 years, I will shift my research strategy by consolidating 4 streams of my past research: temporal dynamics, host-symbiont interactions, small mammal metacommunity dynamics, and DNA-based species identification and bioinformatics. I will focus on a study system that combines my past strengths in metacommunity ecology at multiple scales, but will apply them to a novel system: microbial metacommunities nested within a matrix of metacommunity of different host species.Learn More
We are interested in microbial enzymes involved in the steroid and aromatic compounds degradation. These enzymes are important for bioremediation of organic pollutants and are potential targets for development of antibiotics against tuberculosis. In collaboration with Dr. Ting Zhou at Agriculture Agri-food Canada, we are isolating and characterizing enzymes capable of detoxifying the mycotoxins, deoxynivalenol and patulin. These mycotoxins contaminate grains and fruit juices.Learn More
Dr. Cezar Khursigara's research focuses on understanding how bacterial pathogens respond to their environment to cause disease. They are particularly interested in factors involved in biofilm formation and chronic infection. His research group is taking a multidisciplinary approach to answer fundamental questions related to how bacteria form biofilms to cause persistent infections. By combining advanced systems biology and imaging techniques, his goal is to identify potential therapeutics that can target a broad spectrum of disease-causing bacteria.Learn More
We are interested in characterizing the mechanisms of pathogenesis, adaptation, and survival in fungal and bacterial microbes from a systems biology perspective through mass spectrometry-based quantitative proteomics. Specifically, research in the lab centres around the following areas:
1) Systems biology to elucidate microbial proteome dynamics and interactions;
2) Mechanistic characterization of pathogenic proteins; and
3) Mass spectrometry-based proteomics for drug discovery and repurposing.
The Cox lab aims to gain a better understanding of the molecular underpinnings of resistance mechanisms. Specifically, we study bacterial efflux systems, which will provide insight into their physiological functions and origins and will also support future drug discovery efforts and antibiotic stewardship. In addition, recognizing the need for innovation in the search for new antibacterial agents, we are exploring novel approaches to control bacterial infections by investigating the inhibition of bacterial adhesion to host cells.Learn More