Proteomics of meningococci and pneumococci - from in vitro biofilms to in vivo infection

  • Prof. Dr. Sven Hammerschmidt, Interfakultäres Institut für Genetik und Funktionelle Genomforschung, Abteilung Genetik der Mikroorganismen, Universität Greifswald

Project Partners:
  • Prof. Dr. Michael Hecker, Institut für Mikrobiologie, Universität Greifswald
  • PD Dr. Uwe Koedel, Neurologische Klinik und Poliklinik, Klinikum der LMU München
  • Prof. Dr. Ulrich Vogel, Institut für Hygiene und Mikrobiologie, Universität Würzburg

In this project we will employ a time resolved protein profiling of meningococci and pneumococci to gain new informations on the cellular physiology and virulence of these human pathogens. As both microorganisms were shown to form biofilms, which are considered to be in vitro models of microcolonies observed in vivo, we will analyze protein profiles of meningococcal and pneumococcal biofilms. Moreover, the protein profiles of colonizing and invasive meningococci and pneumococci, respectively, will be explored by using different experimental mouse infection models for nasopharyngeal carriage, pneumonia and meningitis, and proteomics approaches. We will use a combination of gel-based and gel-free proteomics procedures. The gel-based proteomics will also allow us to gain insights into the phosphoproteomes and protein damages including outer membrane proteins, while the gel-free proteomics will be essential for the visualization of the proteomes from in vivo settings with low numbers of bacteria. A final ambitious goal of this study will be the collection of human specimen from patients suffering on bacterial meningitis and the proteome analysis of the bacteria and of bacterial proteins secreted to the cerebrospinal fluids, e.g. as attached to bacterial extracellular DNA (eDNA).

Left: Electron micrograph depicting gold stained antibodies binding to the meningococcal capsule.
Reference: M. Frosch, University of Würzburg.
Right: Confocal laser scanning micrograph of meningococcal biofilm.
Reference: M. Lappann, University of Wuerzburg.

Scanning electron micrograph of adherent and invasive pneumococci.
Reference: S. Hammerschmidt (University of Greifswald) and M. Rohde (HZI, Braunschweig).

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