Irena Pastar Lab : Research


Host Response to Polymicrobial Wound Infections

Non-healing cutaneous wounds represent a significant burden to patients, health care professionals, and the health care system. Bacterial biofilm infections are of great concern, as wound infection is the critical incident that often leads to amputation. This bacterial load is polymicrobial, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa represent the most commonly isolated species. We recently showed that simultaneous infection with MRSA and P. aeruginosa significantly impairs epithelialization as compared to infection with single-species biofilms. The current project is focused on mechanisms of wound impairment caused by polymicrobial biofilms using wound infection models and the next generation sequencing approaches.

The Regulation of Cutaneous microRNAs by Staphylococcus aureus Virulence Factors

S. aureus exfoliative toxin (ETA) is a unique serine protease with a single known target protein, desmoglein1 (Dsg1). The specific cleavage of Dsg1 by the action of the ETA disrupts the hemi-desmosomes and leads to blister formation and loss of the upper epidermis resulting in staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome. Our recent studies revealed that epidermal keratinocytes respond to the ETA by specific changes in their miRNA profiles. The goal of this project is to characterize miRNA target genes, and the mechanisms involved in keratinocyte immune response altered by staphylococcal virulence factors.

Funded Research

Grant #: SAC 2013-63
Title: “The Regulation of Skin microRNAs by Staphylococcus aureus Virulence Factors”
Role: PI

Grant #: SAC 2014-11
Title: “Host Response to Diabetic Foot Ulcer Microbiome”
Role: Co-PI