Intracellular pathogens including Salmonella spp., Mycobacterium spp., Brucella spp., Listeria monocytogenes, Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae and Lawsonia intracellularis cause a variety of disease in animals, some of which are zoonotic diseases. These pathogens have developed strategies to evade or inhibit intracellular killing of macrophages, which constitutes the first line of defense against invading microbial pathogens, and can persist in intracellular compartments of the cells. The intracellular environment confers protection from various host immune responses, including antibodies and complement factors, and may limit the effective concentration of antibiotics. Thus, to effectively eliminate these intracellular pathogens from host, we need to develop vaccines that can induce the arm of cell-mediated immunity.
Development of effective vaccines requires comprehensive studies based on the biology of the pathogen, the nature of the disease and the target animal species' immune systems. We conduct basic research to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis of infections and of immune responses to them in domestic animals. The overall goal of the research unit is to develop effective vaccines and/or innovative vaccine strategies, including subunit vaccines, gene-deleted vaccines, and vectored vaccines, against intracellular pathogens.