What We Do
The McBride Lab’s Official Mascott: C. Diff the Seal
Our research is focused on identifying and understanding the genetic mechanisms used by the pathogen Clostridium difficile to subvert host defenses and survive within the mammalian intestine. We study two distinct aspects of C. difficile infections: the resistance of the bacterium to antimicrobial peptides and the formation of dormant spores in the host.
To colonize the intestine and cause persistent infections, C. difficile must be able to circumvent killing by host innate immune defenses. The production of cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs) by the host and the indigenous microbiota represent a critical component of host defense against infections that bacteria must overcome to cause persistent disease. We have evidence that resistance of C. difficile to antimicrobial peptides plays a major role in the ability of the bacterium to colonize the human intestine and cause disease. As such, our laboratory is focused on identifying and understanding the mechanisms that C. difficile utilizes to resist CAMPs produced by the host and the indigenous microbiota of the intestine. To date, we have identified multiple CAMP resistance mechanisms employed by C. difficile, including the novel bacteriocin resistance mechanism, CprABC. By uncovering the bacterial resistance mechanisms that influence disease progression, it is expected that this research will generate knowledge that can be used to manipulate the interactions between the bacteria and the host to prevent and treat infections.