Polymorphornuclear cells (PMNs), specifically neutrophils, make up the first line of defense against invading microorganisms. Patients with defects in neutrophil function have recurring bacterial and fungal infections, while overactive PMNs have been implicated in the progression of chronic inflammatory diseases like asthma and arthritis. Yet, the signaling pathways required for their activation and function remain unknown.
Yersinia species are gram negative bacteria that cause diseases like gastroenteritis and the plague. Through the delivery of effector proteins Yops via a type III secretion system (T3SS), these bacteria can interfere with the function of PMNs. I am interested in understanding how the Yops prevent neutrophils from clearing Yersinia and controlling the infection. In doing so, I will be able to identify the molecular mechanisms regulating neutrophil function during inflammation.