Biochemistry and Cell Biology of Microorganisms
Hans-Meerwein-Straße 6, 35032 Marburg
+49-6421 28 22212
We are interested in the cell cycle and the origin and maintenance of helical cell morphology in bacteria. To this end we study the human pathogen Helicobacter pylori, a helical, highly motile and microaerophilic, Gram negative organism that belongs to the class of epsilon (ε-) proteobacteria. The natural habitat of this pathogen is the human gastric mucosa, and infection results in persistent gastritis which in turn can develop into peptic ulcer disease and adenocarcinoma. As at least half of the world's population is infected, H. pylori is one of the most successful human pathogens.
Although extensive research has been conducted on H. pylori pathogenicity, remarkably little is known about the metabolism and cell biology of this important human pathogen – a fact that applies to the whole class of ε-proteobacteria and that is probably due to their fastidious different requirements. Recently, we have shown that the mode of cell division of H. pylori is clearly distinct from that of the model organisms E. coli, B. subtilis, and C. crescentus (read more). The helical cell shape of H. pylori is thought to be crucial for infection allowing penetration of the mucus and persistence in close proximity to the mucosa. We think that a detailed molecular understanding of this helical, highly motile bacterium may contribute to the development of new drugs for the treatment of H. pylori infection. Therefore we investigate the only recently recognized bacterial cytoskeleton and its role in generating cell morphology and cell wall extension (read more). In our analysis, we concentrate both on the signalling cascades leading to the expression of cytoskeletal genes and on the biochemistry of filament forming proteins building the complex cytoskeletal network. In particular, we biochemically and biophysically characterize the cytoskeletal proteins of H. pylori with regard to their synthetic potential, e.g., in generating biological scaffolds or their usage for biotechnology (read more).