Salmonella is the causative agent of various diseases, ranging from gastro-enteritis to typhoid fever. We have recently discovered that upon infection of host cells, there is a dramatic increase in the proportion of the Salmonella population that forms persisters. A family of genes, named Toxin/Antitoxin modules, is known to be involved in the formation of persisters in a non-pathogenic bacterial species, but almost nothing is known about these genes in pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella. The Helaine lab investigates their function, particularly in relation to persistence of Salmonellato antibiotics during infection. Understanding mechanisms of action of such genes could provide ways to prevent bacteria from becoming persisters, or force them out of that state so they become re-sensitised to antibiotics.
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