Dr Donal Wall Research Interests

Bacterial manipulation of host Programmed Cell Death (PCD) pathways and the role this plays in establishing and prolonging microbial infection

Bacterial pathogens can cause either acute or persistent infections. Their capacity to cause these distinct types of diseases depends on their ability to influence or control the environment they find themselves in once they infect a host organism. Within intestinal epithelial cells or circulating immune cells some bacterial pathogens can establish a niche for survival and replication. Despite attempts by host cells these pathogens survive by undermining host pathways that normally remove and respond to intracellular microbes. As a last resort host cells induce cell suicide, removing themselves and the perceived threat from the body. Some bacterial pathogens we now know can also disrupt this process, keeping infected cells alive for prolonged periods facilitating replication of the bacteria intracellularly. The consequences for the host organism can be profound with persistent periods of inflammation, especially when immune cells such as macrophages and dendritic cells are involved.

Two main research aims in our laboratory are to;

  1. Gain an understanding of bacterial manipulation of apoptotic pathways, including both the induction and inhibition of apoptosis.
  2. Exploit this knowledge to both understand, and in future manipulate, apoptosis in diseases other than microbial infection.  

Laboratory Members: