Microbial Pathogenesis of Oral Organisms

MICHELLE VISSER, PhD  personal profile

Pathogenic mechanisms of oral spirochetes

The oral cavity harbors a large diverse population of microbes consisting of more than 800 species. Our laboratory studies a group of bacteria called spirochetes, of which the most commonly studied member in the oral cavity is Treponema denticola. We are investigating pathogenic mechanisms of T. denticola and in particular the function of bacterial surface proteins including the Major outer sheath protein (Msp) as well as extracellular outer membrane vesicles (OMVs). We use a variety of techniques to investigate the biological function of Msp as well as homologous Msp-like proteins from other oral and non-oral Treponema species; both in the bacteria itself as well as to understand how this organism can manipulate the host response to cause disease and associated tissue damage.  We are also investigating the biogenesis of OMVs from T. denticola, their biological properties and functional activities.

Another area of Dr. Visser's research is available at Immunology and Innate Defenses