Jeffrey I. Gordon
Election Year: 2001
Primary Section: 42, Medical Physiology and Metabolism
Secondary Section: 44, Microbial Biology
Membership Type: Member
My students and I are defining the properties of gut stem cells and how their daughters differentiate to form various cell types that line the mouse stomach and intestine. We use germ-free normal and genetically manipulated mice, colonized with the bacterial species that reside at various locations along the mouse and human gut, to study the molecular foundations of symbiotic and commensal host-microbial relationships. The results indicate that our microbial partners play an important role in shaping postnatal gut development and adult physiology. By determining how colonization of the gut influences both bacterial and host gene expression we are identifying the strategies that these indigenous microbes have developed to manipulate gut epithelial, immune, and neuronal cell populations. Knowledge of these strategies offers new ways for enhancing health and understanding the pathogenesis of a number of diseases. We also study N-myristoyltransferase (Nmt), a eukaryotic enzyme that adds a rare cellular fatty acid (myristate) to proteins involved in diverse and essential cellular processes. Survival of several human pathogens depends on N-myristoylation of their proteins, making their Nmts attractive therapeutic targets.