Mucosal Pathogens Group

Group Overview

Based in the Health Science Centre in UCD, we are a strong translational research group, specialising in cellular microbiology and the study of pathogen interactions. We have worked for a long time with the gastrointestinal pathogens Helicobacter pylori and Campylobacter jejuni and more recently we have started to work also with Pseudomonas aeruginosa an opportunistic pathogen that is a particular problem for individuals with cystic fibrosis.

Our area of interest is how bacteria interact with human and animal tissue and cause disease. An area of particular interest is how bacteria colonise and live in mucus. We have developed a number of novel systems to learn how bacteria colonise mucus and interact with different components of mucus. Such knowledge can lead to the development of new therapeutics that can prevent infection as alternatives to antibiotics.

Centre Information

Location: UCD Health Sciences Centre
Director: Dr Marguerite Clyne
Tel: 01 7166619



More Information

Three projects that we are currently involved in are:

  1. Biomodulation of the gastrointestinal epithelial glycome by bacteria. We are part of the Alimentary Glycoscience Research Cluster an SFI funded strategic research cluster lead by NUI Galway. In this project we aim to investigate the effect of bacterial colonization by both commensals and pathogens on glycosylation in the gut and how these changes can be either beneficial or harmful to the host. As part of this project we are also looking at the direct interaction of bacteria with oligosaccharides found on mucins and epithelial cell membranes and the role these interactions play in mediating infection.
  2. Elucidation of the mechanisms that Helicobacter pylori uses to modulate TFF1 expression in the gastric mucosa. We have identified TFF1, a member of the trefoil peptide family of proteins found in gastric mucus, as a protein that interacts with H. pylori. This interaction which is mediated by the LPS of the bacteria plays an important role in mediating colonization of mucus and gastric cells by the bacteria. We are currently investigating how TFF1 promotes infection by H. pylori and also how the bacteria modulates expression of both TFF1 and the gastric mucin MUC5Ac. This work is sponsored by IRCSET.
  3. The role of mucus and mucins in mediating Pseudomonas aeruginosa colonization of the cystic fibrosis (CF) lung. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is commonly associated with chronic airway infection in CF patients. The reasons for the particular predilection of P. aeruginosa for the CF airway are incompletely understood. In this study we aim to test the hypothesis that the environment of the CF lung, which contains thick stagnant mucus and mucins with altered glycans compared to non-diseased individuals plays an important role in initiation of colonisation and maintenance of chronic bacterial infection. This work is being done in collaboration with Scientists and Clinicians from Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin and is funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland and the Health Research Board.

Dr Marguerite Clyne

  • Dr Colm Reid, UCD School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Prof Stephen Carrington,UCD School of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Prof Billy Bourke, UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science
  • Prof Ronan O’Connell, School of Medicine and Medical Science
  • Dr Felicity May, University of Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Prof Liberato Marzullo, University of Salerno
  • Dr Valerie Urbach, National Children’s Research Centre
  • Prof Lokesh Joshi, NUI Galway
  • Dr Rita Hickey, Teagasc

Dr Marguerite Clyne

My research investigates how pathogens such as Helicobacter pylori, Campylobacter jejuni and Pseudomonas aeruginosa colonise the gut and the lung. I am involved in an inter-institutional, multidisciplinary consortium of academic and industrial researchers funded by Science Foundation Ireland aimed at understanding the glycobiology of human intestinal infections. I am also funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland and the Health Research Board to investigate how P. aeruginosa colonises and maintains infection in the lung.