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BACTERIOPHAGE ADHERENCE TO MUCUS GLYCANS MEDIATES AN ADAPTIVE ANTI-MICROBIAL LAYER

Presenter: Dr Jeremy Barr, Head, Bacteriophage Biology Research Group, Monash University

Date: Friday 18 October, 11.00 am

Venue: Institute for Glycomics, Griffith University Gold Coast campus, Lecture Theatre (G26 4.09)


Abstract

The human body is colonised by a diverse collective of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses, with the largest microbial community found within the gut. The smallest entity of our microbiome are the bacterial viruses. Bacteriophages, or phages for short, exert significant selective pressure on their bacterial hosts, undoubtedly influencing the human microbiome and its impact on our health and well-being. Phages colonise all niches of the body, including the skin, oral cavity, lungs, gut, and urinary tract, many of which are covered by a mucosal surfaces and are principle sites of defence against infection. We demonstrated that phages interact with and adhere to diverse mucosal surfaces, ranging from cnidarians to humans. In vitro studies using tissue culture cells with and without surface mucus demonstrated that this increase in phage abundance is mucus dependent and protects the underlying epithelium from bacterial infection. Enrichment of phage in mucus occurs via binding interactions between mucin glycoproteins and immunoglobulin-like (Ig-like) protein domains exposed on phage capsids. In particular, phage Ig-like domains bind variable glycan residues that coat the mucin glycoprotein component of mucus. Here, I will discuss our lab's research investigating the bacteriophage adherence to mucus, the use of lab-on-chip devices to study these interactions and provide evidence that phages can adapt to change their adherence to diverse mucosal layers.

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