Prof Andrew J Roe - Research Interests

Background:

I carried out a BBSRC-CASE studentship in the laboratory of Prof Ian Booth (University of Aberdeen) focused on understanding the physiology and biochemistry involved in E. coli response to acid stress. This led onto a Wellcome Trust research position in which I investigated the expression of the two-component potassium transport system, Kdp. I then joined Professor David Gallys DEFRA funded group at University of Edinburgh studying the regulation of type three secretion systems (T3SS) in E.coli O157:H7 which was a good opportunity to gain greater experience in molecular biology and work on this important pathogen. After several years of postdoctoral experience, I started my own group in Glasgow in December 2007.

Research:

My work investigates the function and regulation of virulence factors produced by E. coli. A range of molecular techniques are employed to understand when and how virulence factors are expressed. These include gene fusions to green fluorescent protein (GFP), trancriptome analysis (RNA-seq) and a range of other omic analyses including metabolomics and proteomics. An important aspect of my work is trying to understand how bacteria co-ordinate the expression of multiple virulence factors to achieve success in the host. For example the roles of specific transcirption factors, such as YhaJ (Figure 1) in different pathotypes has been dissected using ChIP-seq. 

Model EColi and YhaJ

Figure 1: A model for regulatory adaptation and transcription factor recycling in pathogens The regulatory protein YhaJ is highly conserved in all E. coli and has been tailored to suit the lifestyles of individual pathotypes of E. coli that colonise distinct niches in the host.

Our goals are to apply our understanding of the regulation of virulence factors to develop novel intervention strategies to combat pathogens that use the same basic mechanisms for infection. In collaboration with colleagues in chemistry we are developing compounds that block the expression of key virulence factors without affecting bacterial growth or survival. Long-term, this could lead to an entirely new class of anti-bacterial agents to treat important infections.

To capture our thoughts, and disseminate our concepts, we often work with artists to generate some stunning and thought-provoking images, an example of which is shown below.