Gut Microbiota

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Institut de Biomedicina de la UB (IBUB)

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Our research group conducts basic research aimed at studying the molecular mechanisms mediating host-intestinal microbiota communication.

We have been recognised, uninterruptedly, as a consolidated AGAUR research group  (Government of Catalonia) since 1996, under the name of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Microorganisms.

Some members of the group also form part of the consolidated Integrative Biochemistry research group (reference 2017 SGR-1033), which is a highly diverse multidisciplinary group.

Research lines

  1. Factors secreted by bacteria and their function in the interaction with the intestinal epithelium. Initially our research focus was on the pathogens, but is now more centred on intestinal microbiota.
  2. Establishing the role of outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) as a mechanism through which commensal and probiotic bacteria modulate intestinal homeostasis, especially the immune response and epithelial barrier function. For this line of inquiry, we collaborate with clinicians and researchers associated with the Gastroenterology Departments at various hospitals.
  3. Mechanism of action of platinum and palladium compounds in anti-tumour activity. This research is carried out in collaboration with other chemistry research teams. Our contribution is to characterise the activity of these compounds on DNA and potential enzymatic targets.

Scientific objectives

  1. To identify and functionally validate the signalling pathways activated by intestinal microbiota vesicles and probiotics.
  2. To adopt RNA-Seq approaches to identify changes in gene expression and mean microRNAs by these vesicles in epithelial and immune cells, especially dendritic cells.
  3. To select and validate genes/microRNAs of interest in relation to intestinal homeostasis parameters.
  4. To conduct a comparative analysis to identify strain-specific mechanisms.

Area/Field of expertise

There is much scientific evidence on the influence of microbiota on health. This is now an extremely active research area which has led to the exploration of new therapeutic strategies based on probiotics or beneficial commensal bacteria. Our research forms part of the study of the molecular factors and mechanisms that govern the interactions between the host and the intestinal microbiota. This knowledge is key to be able to transfer microbiota-based therapies to clinical practice in humans.

Because microbiota access to the intestinal epithelium is limited by the mucin layer, factors secreted by the microbiota are important actors in intercellular signalling in the gut due to their ability to diffuse through this layer and interact with the cells of the intestinal mucosa. Our research is mainly focused on membrane vesicles secreted by intestinal microbiota.

We are a group of university professors with a long track record of uninterrupted scientific research, postdoctoral researchers and PhD students from various academic backgrounds, who together offer an integral approach to the challenges posed by research in intercellular communication between organisms and systems. We are based at the University of Barcelona and have all the necessary facilities and equipment needed to carry out our research. The university also has a group of Science and Technology centres (CCiTUB) on whom we can depend for support (mass spectrometry and confocal electron microscopy, an animal facility, cytometry, genomics and bioinformatic analysis).

Group members

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Theses

  • Modulación de la barrera epitelial intestinal por vesículas de membrana y factores solubles secretados por cepas probióticas y comensales de Escherichia coli
    Institution
    UNIVERSIDAD DE BARCELONA
    19/09/2017
  • Comunicación microbiota-huésped: internalización y señalización intracelular de vesículas de membrana externa de cepas probióticas y comensales de E. coli en células de epitelio intestinal
    Author
    Cañas Pacheco, Mª Alexandra
    Institution
    UNIVERSIDAD DE BARCELONA
    21/07/2017
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