Investigating the interactions between antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and their mammalian host
Bacterial infections, including those caused by antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) bacteria, are responsible for most of the deaths in children worldwide and significantly complicate the treatment of immunocompromised pediatric patients. Our laboratory utilizes a multidisciplinary research framework and strong collaborations with other basic and clinical departments to study the interactions between AMR pathogens and the host.
Our work contributes to the fundamental understanding of the interplay between pathogens and the host response. This information is critical for the advancement of preventative care measures and the development of effective infectious disease treatments.
During infection, pathogens use a variety of strategies to outmaneuver the host’s immune response to survive and thrive. We are interested in discovering these strategies as they could be vulnerabilities that can be exploited to develop novel treatments and preventives. Currently we are focusing on two major AMR pathogens, Staphylococcus aureus and Enterobacter cloacae complex.
We are interested in identifying virulence factors involved in colonization, transmission and infection. We take advantage of bacterial genetics, omics, clinical samples, comparative genomics, primary human tissue culture models and diverse murine infection models to accomplish our goals.
Pore-forming toxins are critical weapons used by S. aureus to lyse immune, endothelial, and red blood cells. We have a longstanding interest in how the pore-forming toxins known as bicomponent leukocidins work and promote infection.
We are interested in defining the molecular details of toxin-receptor interactions to better understand tropism towards host cells. We are also identifying host factors involved in the demise of mammalian cells upon toxin exposure. Additionally, we are unraveling how toxins are regulated during different infections. Lastly, since leukocidins drive pathogenesis, we are examining the therapeutic value of targeting these toxins during active and passive immunizations.
Victor J. Torres, PhD
Member, St. Jude Faculty
Chair, Department of Host-Microbe Interactions
Director, Center for Infectious Diseases Research
Albert and Rosemary Joseph Endowed Chair in Host-Microbe Interactions
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital