Periodontal diseases are among the most common infections of humans and are also associated with a number of chronic systemic inflammatory conditions. The bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg), a member of the phylum Bacteroidetes, is a key player in these infections. This bacterium, like its counterparts in the large intestine (e.g., Bacteroides thetaiotamicron and Bacteroides fragilis), persists in intimate association with the mucosal lining of its human host. In general, Pg is best classified as a pathobiont, i.e. a natural member of the human microbiota that under certain perturbations to the host and/or microbiome can cause pathology. As a pathobiont, its ability to express virulence determinants is central to its ability to trigger dysbiosis/disease. Using a combination of molecular genetics, host-Pg interaction studies, as well as lipidomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics; the Davey lab is focused on determining the interbacterial cell-cell signaling and molecular mechanisms that control Pg’s switch from life as a commensal to a pathogenic state.
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