Paula I. Watnick, MD, PhD
|Hospital Title||Senior Associate Physician in Medicine|
|Academic Title||Associate Professor of Pediatrics|
300 Longwood Avenue
Boston MA 02115
In the developing world, thousands of children succumb to the severe, diarrheal disease cholera each year. The Gram-negative bacterium V. cholerae is not only the agent of this pandemic disease, but also a symbiont of arthropods and a natural inhabitant of marine environments. Our laboratory focuses on the mechanisms V. cholerae uses to attach to the intestinal epithelia of arthropods and mammals and on the innate immune responses of these intestinal epithelia to the V. cholerae biofilm.
Our current research areas are described below:
- Environmental signals that activate surface attachment. Our laboratory has identified multiple environmental signals that activate the Vibrio cholerae surface attachment in the laboratory. Some of these are also important for colonization of the arthropod and mammalian intestinal epithelia. We are currently investigating the role of these signals in colonization of the arthropod and mammalian intestine and the bacterial signal transduction cascades that are utilized by these signals.
- The host-pathogen interaction using a Drosophila model. We have recently demonstrated that ingestion of pathogenic V. cholerae produces a lethal intestinal infection in the model arthropod Drosophila melanogaster. Furthermore, death of the fly is hastened by elaboration of cholera toxin. By utilizing the powerful genetic tools available in the fly, we have determined that programmed death of intestinal epithelial cells protects the fly against V. cholerae infection. We are currently examining the mechanism of programmed epithelial cell death, the bacterial factors that cause it, and the relevance to mammalian infection.
About Paula Watnick
Paula Watnick received her PhD from the California Institute of Technology and her M.D. from Yale University. She completed an internship and residency at Beth Israel Hospital, Boston and an Infectious Disease Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her postdoctoral research was conducted in the laboratories of Dr. Stephen Calderwood at Massachusetts General Hospital and Dr. Roberto Kolter at Harvard Medical School.
- Absalon C, Van Dellen K, and Watnick PI, A communal adhesion mediates attachment of Vibrio cholerae to surfaces, PLoS Pathogens, 2011; 7 : e1002210.
- Purdy A, and Watnick PI, Spatially selective colonization of the arthropod intestine through activation of Vibrio cholerae biofilm formation, PNAS, 2011; 108: 19737-42.
- Ymele-Leki P, Cao S, Sharp J, Lambert KG, McAdam AJ, Husson RN, Tamayo G, Clardy J, Watnick PI, A high-throughput screen identifies a new natural product with broad-spectrum antibacterial activity, PLoS ONE, 2012; 7: e31307.
- Wang Z, Berkey C, Watnick PI, The Drosophila protein Mustard tailors the innate immune response activated by the IMD pathway, J Immunol, 2012; 188:3993-4000.