School of Dentistry
This group's research is highly interdisciplinary. The researchers study the structure and function of calprotectin (S100A8/A9), an antimicrobial protein complex produced by innate immune cells and epithelial cells. They are quite interested in how S100A8/A9 controls the intracellular levels of commensal and pathogenic bacteria on mucosal surfaces in vitro and in vivo and the occurrence of the highly prevalent oral infection, periodontitis. They have also discovered that S100A8/A9 controls the cell cycle checkpoint at G2/M. In head and neck cancer cells, this checkpoint is dysfunctional. The researchers have "repaired" carcinoma cells by transfection with either the genes or mRNAs for S100A8 and S100A9. They are now studying the role of S100A8/A9 in control of the G2/M-associated DNA repair mechanism.
The researchers have also developed RNA-seq and proteomic databases for Streptococcus gordonii and various deletion mutants as they try to understand how the organism adapts to environmental constraints. They are also studying the role of the oral microbiome in experimental periodontitis and in carcinogen-induced oral cancer. Both use mouse models.