Hunstad Lab Research


Work in our lab focuses on the interactions of pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria with their hosts, using urinary tract infection (UTI) as our primary model. We aim to elucidate host-pathogen interactions in the urinary tract, modulation of host immune responses by uropathogenic bacteria, and the influence of sex on UTI pathogenesis.

 

We have developed new models of mouse UTI which enable first-ever studies of sex differences in UTI pathogenesis and host response. We have used this model to demonstrate that uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) establish biofilm-like communities within kidney tubules during renal abscess formation, and that androgen receptor signaling drives increased severity of UTI. This is now being investigated with flow cytometry, RNAseq, CRISPR and other technical approaches. We also use cultured bladder epithelial cell models and murine models of cystitis to investigate the ability of UPEC to modulate host innate and adaptive immune responses. Our primary goal is to discover novel targets for interventions that will prevent and treat bacterial infections of the urinary tract. Along these lines, we are leveraging recent discoveries in UTI pathogenesis to design novel therapies for prevention of recurrent UTI. The lab is located on the 6th floor of the McDonnell Pediatric Research Building.