Bacterial Infections at the Respiratory Mucosal Surface

Respiratory infections are one of the most common diseases in cattle and human and are associated with high mortality and morbidity rates. Therefore, these diseases have a heavy burden on the health care system and are a major source of economic losses. In humans the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa is associated with causing pneumonia in hospitalized and immunocompromised patients or chronic lung disease. In calves Mannheimia haemolytica is a major cause of bovine respiratory disease.

Both bacteria are becoming a major threat to society since they have the ability to adapt and acquire resistance to antibiotics. Consequently, more strategies for the prevention and treatment of bacterial respiratory diseases need to be developed. For the design and development of such strategies, the complex host–pathogen interactions at the mucosal surface must be uncovered.

There is emerging evidence that MUC1 plays a dynamic role in the host mucosal barrier during health and infection. Both Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Mannheimia haemolytica are thought to take advantage of the highly glycosylated mucins (MUC1) to invade the epithelial cells of the lung.

Therefore, we want to determine the role of mucins and mucin glycans during respiratory bacterial infections including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Mannheimia haemolytica. Address which mucins are important during bacterial infection, which glycans play a role and which signaling pathways are stimulated by bacterial binding to the mucins. Eventually, we want to study whether we could strengthen the mucosal barrier of the lung using HDAC inhibitors.

Dave Lifka