EN | DE
EN | DE

Jun Prof Alexander Westermann

Host-pathogen-microbiota interactions

The group of Alexander Westermann focuses on investigating molecular RNA-based mechanisms that allow infecting pathogens to outcompete the resident microbiota. Their research centers on the identification and functional characterization of noncoding RNA molecules in pathogens, microbiota members and the host, to identify those RNAs that may serve as biomarkers for diagnostics or as therapeutic targets.

Our research and approach

The importance of RNA in maintaining cellular physiology by controlling gene expression in response to intrinsic and external cues has long been underestimated. Now, numerous human diseases have been linked to RNA functioning. Likewise, we now know that bacterial pathogens harness a large suite of noncoding RNA molecules to adapt to environmental stress and to precisely regulate their virulence programs. In an era of antibiotic crisis, it is essential to discover alternative combat strategies against pathogenic bacteria — ideally ones that spare the beneficial microbiota communities. The high specificity of RNA molecules provides great potential for achieving these goals.

Team members

Research projects

Bacterial infections of mammalian hosts are arguably among the most complex biological processes, often comprising a multitude of interacting organisms from different kingdoms. How do bacterial pathogens promote infection and what defense mechanisms do they have to overcome in order to colonize? What molecular mechanisms manifest the protective role of the microbiota against pathogenic attack? And what is the role of noncoding RNAs in host-microbiota-pathogen crosstalk? These and related questions are addressed in our group. Using cutting-edge RNA-sequencing-based techniques, our research centers on the identification and functional characterization of noncoding RNA molecules in the enteric pathogen Salmonella Typhimurium, the important intestinal microbiota member Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, and the human host, to identify those RNAs that may serve as biomarkers for diagnosis or as therapeutic targets in the future. In addition to contributing to the field by the development of novel RNA-seq-based technologies for complex infection settings, we aim to increase the knowledge about functions of regulatory RNA molecules and RNA-binding proteins in bacterial pathogenesis and symbiosis, by gaining biological insights from mechanistic studies.

Publications

2020

A high-resolution transcriptome map identifies small RNA regulation of metabolism in the gut microbe Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron

Ryan D, Jenniches L, Reichardt S, Barquist L, Westermann AJ (2020)

Nature Communications, 11: 3557

Dual RNA-seq of Orientia tsutsugamushi informs on host-pathogen interactions for this neglected intracellular human pathogen

Mika-Gospodorz B, Giengkam S, Westermann AJ, Wongsantichon J, Kion-Crosby W, Chuenklin S, Wang LC, Sunyakumthorn P, Sobota RM, Subbian S, …, Barquist L, Salje J (2020)

Nature Communications, 11: 3363

Amidochelocardin Overcomes Resistance Mechanisms Exerted on Tetracyclines and Natural Chelocardin

Hennessen F, Miethke M, Zaburannyi N, Loose M, Lukežic T, Bernecker S, Hüttel S, Jansen R, Schmiedel J, Fritzenwanker M, …, Herrmann J, Müller R (2020)

Antibiotics, 9 (9): 1-19

Improved bacterial RNA-seq by Cas9-based depletion of ribosomal RNA reads

Prezza G, Heckel T, Dietrich S, Homberger C, Westermann AJ, Vogel J (2020)

RNA, 26 (11)

An Advanced Human Intestinal Coculture Model Reveals Compartmentalized Host and Pathogen Strategies during Salmonella Infection

Schulte LN, Schweinlin M, Westermann AJ, Janga H, Santos SC, Appenzeller S, Walles H, Vogel J, Metzger M (2020)

mBio, 11 (1): 03348-19

2019

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Brain Endothelial Cells as a Cellular Model to Study Neisseria meningitidis Infection

Martins Gomes SF, Westermann AJ, Sauerwein T, Hertlein T, Förstner KU, Ohlsen K, Metzger M, Shusta EV, Kim BJ, Appelt-Menzel A, Schubert-Unkmeir A (2019)

Frontiers in Microbiology, 10: 1181

The Major RNA-Binding Protein ProQ Impacts Virulence Gene Expression in Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium

Westermann AJ, Venturini E, Sellin ME, Förstner KU, Hardt W, Vogel J (2019)

mBio, 10 (1): 02504-18

2018

Salmonella persisters undermine host immune defenses during antibiotic treatment

Stapels DA, Hill PW, Westermann AJ, Fisher RA, Thurston TL, Saliba AE, Blommestein I, Vogel J, Helaine S (2018)

Science, 362 (6419): 1156-1160

Toward Cell Type-Specific In Vivo Dual RNA-Seq

Frönicke L, Bronner DN, Byndloss MX, McLaughlin B, Bäumler AJ, Westermann AJ (2018)

Methods In Enzymology, 612: 505-522

Regulatory RNAs in Virulence and Host-Microbe Interactions

Westermann AJ (2018)

Microbiology Spectrum, 6 (4): 305-337

MetaMap: an atlas of metatranscriptomic reads in human disease-related RNA-seq data

Simon LM, Karg S, Westermann AJ, Engel M, Elbehery AH, Hense B, Heinig M, Deng L, Theis FJ (2018)

GigaScience, 7 (6): 070

CRP-cAMP mediates silencing of Salmonella virulence at the post-transcriptional level

El Mouali Y, Gaviria-Cantin T, Sánchez-Romero MA, Gibert M, Westermann AJ, Vogel J, Balsalobre C (2018)

PLOS Genetics, 14 (6): 10074

Host-Pathogen Transcriptomics by Dual RNA-Seq

Westermann AJ, Vogel J (2018)

In: Arluison V., Valverde C. (eds) Bacterial Regulatory RNA, Methods Mol Biol (Methods in Molecular Biology), 1737: 59-75

2017

Einzelzell-RNA-Sequenzierung beleuchtet den Infektionsprozess

Saliba AE, Westermann AJ, Vogel J (2017)

BIOspektrum, 23 (5): 525-528

RNA target profiles direct the discovery of virulence functions for the cold-shock proteins CspC and CspE

Michaux C, Holmqvist E, Vasicek E, Sharan M, Barquist L, Westermann AJ, Gunn JS, Vogel J (2017)

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114 (26): 6824-6829

Resolving host-pathogen interactions by dual RNA-seq

Westermann AJ, Barquist L, Vogel J (2017)

PLOS Pathogens, 13 (2): 10060

2016

Single-cell RNA-seq ties macrophage polarization to growth rate of intracellular Salmonella

Saliba AE, Li L, Westermann AJ, Appenzeller S, Stapels DA, Schulte LN, Helaine S, Vogel J (2016)

Nature Microbiology, 2: 16206

Dual RNA-seq unveils noncoding RNA functions in host-pathogen interactions

Westermann AJ, Forstner KU, Amman F, Barquist L, Chao Y, Schulte LN, Muller L, Reinhardt R, Stadler PF, Vogel J (2016)

Nature, 529 (7587): 496-501

An NK Cell Perforin Response Elicited via IL-18 Controls Mucosal Inflammation Kinetics during Salmonella Gut Infection

Müller AA, Dolowschiak T, Sellin ME, Felmy B, Verbree C, Gadient S, Westermann AJ, Vogel J, LeibundGut-Landmann S, Hardt W (2016)

PLOS Pathogens, 12 (6): 10057

Molecular phenotyping of infection-associated small non-coding RNAs

Barquist L, Westermann AJ, Vogel J (2016)

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 371 (1707): 20160

2015

Dual 3'Seq using deepSuperSAGE uncovers transcriptomes of interacting Salmonella enterica Typhimurium and human host cells

Afonso-Grunz F, Hoffmeier K, Müller S, Westermann AJ, Rotter B, Vogel J, Winter P, Kahl G (2015)

BMC Genomics, 16: 323

2014

Single-cell RNA-seq: advances and future challenges

Saliba AE, Westermann AJ, Gorski SA, Vogel J (2014)

Nucleic Acids Research, 42 (14): 8845-60

2013

Differential activation and functional specialization of miR-146 and miR-155 in innate immune sensing

Schulte LN, Westermann AJ, Vogel J (2013)

Nucleic Acids Research, 41 (1): 542-53

2012

Dual RNA-seq of pathogen and host

Westermann AJ, Gorski SA, Vogel J (2012)

Nature Reviews Microbiology, 10 (9): 618-30

This website uses cookies to enhance your user experience. By continuing to browse this website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information