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Path-Immuno - James Versalovic Lab

Houston, Texas

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Path-Immuno - James Versalovic Lab
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Kathryn Pflughoeft, Ph.D.

Kathryn Pflughoeft, Ph.D.Postdoctoral Associate


Phone: 832-824-8243
Fax: 832-825-1165
E-Mail:pflughoe@bcm.edu
Joined lab: Nov. 2010

Mailing Address:
Texas Children's Hospital
1102 Bates Ave.
Suite 830, Feigin Center
Houston, TX 77030


Research Interests

Interaction of Lactobacillus reuteri within a commensal bacterial community

The probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri produces both inter- and intra-kingdom signaling molecules. Inter-kingdom signaling between L. reuteri and the host leads to modulation of the host immune response during gastrointestinal (GI) tract colonization, in part by inducing host signaling pathways. Intra-kingdom signaling between L. reuteri and the greater bacterial community modulates the composition of the human microbiota in part though the production of an antimicrobial peptide, however other undefined molecules may also contribute. Moreover, the specific interactions between L. reuteri and other members of the bacterial community have not been characterized. We hypothesize that the composition of the microbiota is regulated by factors secreted by L. reuteri that modulate the colonization or persistence of commensal organisms. We are studying the interactions of L. reuteri within a defined commensal community characteristic of the murine intestinal population, which consists of bacteria that together have been termed the Altered Schaedler Flora (ASF), using in vitro and in vivo co-culture models. Analyzing L. reuteri in combination with the ASF strains provides the opportunity to identify interactions occurring in a complex community similar to that observed during GI tract colonization. We are using RNAseq to assess changes in gene expression of L. reuteri and the ASF strains when the probiotic is introduced into the community. Using fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) we are examining the interaction of L. reuteri with ASF organisms in an in vitro biofilm model as well as in the mouse intestine. Our overall goal for the project is to gain a more complete understanding into the probiotic properties of L. reuteri.


Education/Background

  • Pediatric GI Training Grant Recipient (NIH); Robert J. Shulman, P.I.: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, 2011-present.
  • PhD, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Texas, Health Science Center, Houston, Dec. 2010
  • Molecular Basis of Infectious Diseases Training Grant Recipient (NIH); Steven J. Norris, P.I.: University of Texas, Health Science Center at Houston, 2005-2008.
  • BA, Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, May 2000
  • Undergraduate Training Grant Position Recipient (NSF); Mary K. Sandford, P.I.: University of North Carolina, Greensboro, 1998-1999.

Publications

  • Pflughoeft KJ, Kierek K, and Watnick PI (2003). Role of ectoine in Vibrio cholerae osmoadaptation. Appl Environ Microbiol. 69:5919-27.
  • Kapfhammer D, Karatan E, Pflughoeft KJ, and Watnick PI. (2005). Role for glycine betaine transport in Vibrio cholerae osmoadaptation and biofilm formation within microbial communities. Appl Environ Microbiol.71:3840-7.
  • Bourgogne A, Singh KV, Fox KA, Pflughoeft KJ, Murray BE, and Garsin DA. (2007). EbpR is Important for Biofilm Formation by Activating Expression of the Endocarditis and Biofilm-Associated Pilus Operon (ebpABC) of Enterococcus faecalis OG1RF. J Bacteriol. 189:6490-3.
  • Lisanby MW, Swiecki MK, Dizon BL, Pflughoeft KJ, Koehler TM, Kearney JF. (2008). Cathelicidin administration protects mice from Bacillus anthracis spore challenge. J Immunol. 181:4989-5000.
  • Pflughoeft KJ, Sumby P, and Koehler TM The sin loci and the regulation of secreted proteases in B. anthracis (2011). J Bacteriol. 193:631-9.
  • Pflughoeft KJ, Matsunami R, Yeo HJ, Engler D, and Koehler TM. Modulation of the Secretome of Bacillus anthracis by the Immune Inhibitor A1 Protease. (In preparation)

Abstracts

  • Pflughoeft KJ, Kierek K, and Watnick PI (2003). Role of ectoine in Vibrio cholerae osmoadaptation. American Society of Microbiology, 103rd General Meeting, Washington, D.C. Poster Presentation.
  • Pflughoeft KJ and Koehler TK (2006). Immune Inhibitor A (InhA) in B. anthracis. Second Annual Anthrax Summit of the Western Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease Research. Oklahoma City, OK. Oral Presentation.
  • Pflughoeft KJ and Koehler TK (2007). The role of extracellular proteases in Bacillus anthracis. Third Annual Anthrax Summit of the Western Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease Research. Albuquerque, NM. Oral presentation.
  • Pflughoeft KJ, Lovchik J., Lyons CR, and Koehler TM (2007). Immune Inhibitor A proteases influences Bacillus anthracis - macrophage interaction. Bacillus ACT International Meeting, Oslo, Norway. Poster Presentation.
  • Pflughoeft KJ, Sumby P, and Koehler TM (2009). The sin regulatory locus and secreted proteases of Bacillus anthracis. Molecular Basis and Infectious Diseases Retreat, Houston, TX. Poster Presentation.
  • Pflughoeft KJ, Sumby P, and Koehler TM (2009). The Bacillus anthracis sinIR locus and the post-translational regulation of the secretome. 2009 meeting on Microbial Pathogenesis and Host Response, Cold Spring Harbor. Poster Presentation.

Book Chapters

Pflughoeft KJ and Versalovic J. Human Microbiome in Health and Disease (2012). Annu Rev. Pathol.

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