2014 Funding Round – Explorer Grant

Dr Anthony Phillips
The University of Auckland
Re-thinking the cross talk between bacteria and host cells
$150,000
24 months

Lay summary

The successful interaction between bacteria and their host during infection is complex. A range of signals mediated by protein, peptide and small molecule effectors are well-recognised mechanisms for bacterial manipulation of the host. In this study we are proposing a new type of molecular communication system based on combinations of nucleotides (building blocks of DNA and RNA) that act as signals being released by bacteria to alter the way the host cell nucleus and associated machinery make proteins. We will screen profiles of the nucleotide based molecules released from bacteria for combinations that we will then show can alter human cells. It offers two major outputs. The first is a new paradigm in biology related to nucleotide communication between bacteria and host. Secondly it promises to provide the basis for developing a completely new class of anti-infective directed at disrupting this novel bacteria-to-host signalling pathway.

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