Investigating components of a Campylobacter jejuni iron uptake system to inform antimicrobial strategies.
Campylobacteriosis is an infectious diarrheal disease and one of the largest contributors to hospitalizations and deaths from food poisoning in Canada and worldwide. It is usually caused by consumption of food or water contaminated by the bacterium Campylobacter jejuni, resulting in watery or bloody diarrhea, fever, and serious post-infectious illnesses. This illness is especially dangerous for very young or old people, made worse by lack of a vaccine and increasing frequency of infections that are resistant to treatment by current antibiotics. A recent WHO report identified C. jejuni as a pathogen with a 'high priority for research and development of new antibiotics'. To thrive and cause campylobacteriosis, C. jejuni must take up nutrients such as iron, which is present in the human gut.
This project will investigate the structural components of a newly-identified system which helps this bacterium collect iron from its surroundings during infection. Better understanding these structures could allow us to develop new antibacterial agents which fight infection by preventing the bacterium from collecting iron. These outcomes could be extended to several other disease-causing bacteria which contain related iron-collecting systems.