Figure 1: Anatomical sites of
documented Kp infection
(Ferrer et al., 2021)

Our lab focuses on the pathogenesis of Klebsiella pneumoniae (Kp) — an opportunistic pathogen that is increasingly becoming multidrug resistant. As a result, resistant Kp is deemed “urgent” by the CDC and a “priority pathogen” by the WHO.

Kp can be characterized as classical, which primarily causes nosocomial infections, or hypervirulent, which can infect healthy hosts. Vaccine development is challenging within this species as it has over 80 known capsular types and at least eight different O-antigens. In addition to these virulence factors, our lab is interested in the type 1 pilus operon and, specifically, the fimK regulatory gene that is unique to Kp.

Our lab predominantly works with classical isolates, such as TOP52, which allows us to utilize mouse models of pneumonia and urinary tract infection to study its pathogenesis and the subsequent host immune response. Our lab, also, studies hypervirulent strains — most notable 43816 and NTUH — and a repository of strains (over 300) collected from various sites within human patients. While antibiotics are not successful in killing this pathogen, our lab is striving to develop methods to inhibit the virulence of this organism or prevent infection through the development of vaccines.

 

Classical versus hypervirulent Kp and virulence factors of interest

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