We communicate with our resident microbiota through the language of metabolites. Host-derived metabolites shape the balance between commensals and pathogens, and in turn, microbiota-derived metabolites tune host immune responses. This dialogue ultimately determines our susceptibility to disease. We use bacterial genetics, genomics, animal models, and immune profiling to decipher microbiota-host metabolic communication in the oral cavity, site of one of the most prevalent inflammatory diseases worldwide (periodontitis).
The Apollo Lab deciphers microbiota-host communication in the oral cavity. Using a combination of bacterial genetics, genomics, and animal models, we characterize metabolite-mediated interactions between oral pathogens, commensals, and the host that contribute to gum disease (periodontitis) and oral cancer. Currently, we are engaged in identifying the host-derived metabolites and corresponding metabolic functions in Fusobacterium nucleatum that allow this oncopathogen to outcompete commensals and thereby expand in the oral cancer micro-environment. With this knowledge, we hope to develop microbiota-directed cancer therapies that involve selectively targeting the growth of oncopathogens while not causing collateral damage to the surrounding microbiota.