Michael A Apicella M.D.
Professor of Microbiology
Research Program: The long range goal of Dr. Apicella's research is to understand the factors involved in the pathogenesis of human pathogenic Neisseria and nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae infections in order to develop methods to inhibit these infectious processes either by vaccination or chemotherapy. These organisms are strict human pathogens and cause considerable disease worldwide. Dr. Apicella's research combines state of the art methodologies in molecular biology, cell biology, bioinformatics and macromolecular chemistry to study mechanisms involved in bacterial pathogenesis.
The studies of the Apicella laboratory on nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) have shown that NTHi invades host cells by binding of the platelet-activating factor (PAF) receptor via LOS glycoforms containing phosphorylcholine (ChoP). The binding of the PAF receptor by NTHi initiates receptor coupling to a pertussis toxin-sensitive heterotrimeric G protein complex, resulting in a multifactorial host cell signal cascade and bacterial invasion. We are currently engaged in studies of NTHi biofilm formation in continuous flow chambers and during infection of airway epithelial cells. To date, these studies suggest that sialic acid plays an important role in biofilm development and gene regulation within the NTHi biofilm.