Functional analysis of ferritin operon genes encoding unknown factors involved in virulence, antibiotic resistance and stress adaptation of Listeria monocytogenes 

Principal Investigator: Agata Krawczyk-Balska (Project partner: Birgitte Kallipolitis and Maria Górna)

Listeria monocytogenes is an opportunistic humans and animals pathogen that can adapt to survival in a wide range of environmental conditions. Cases of listeriosis, an infection with a mortality rate up to 30 % despite undertaken antibiotic therapy, are associated with the consumption of food contaminated with this microorganism.

Ferritin is a protein which plays an important role in the virulence, resistance to β-lactams antibiotics and adaptation to various stress conditions of L. monocytogenes. This protein is encoded by the first gene of the operon in which four other genes are located.  The physiological function and role in stress adaptation of the ferritin operon genes is unknown. In the project, we intend to investigate the role and mechanism of action of these genes through the use of bacterial genetics, microbiology and high-throughput methods as well as studies on the tissue cultures and animal model.

In an effort to decrease the significant human and economic costs associated with listeriosis, it is crucial to develop of methodologies to prevent the survival of L. monocytogenes in the clinical and non-clinical settings. In the respect, the identification and characterization of so far unknown factors which contribute to virulence and stress adaptation of L. monocytogenes could pave the way to develop new treatment strategies for this important pathogen. 

FUNDING SOURCES: Opus 11 grant, National Science Centre, Poland