Jeff F. Miller, Ph.D.

Research

Our laboratory studies the roles of sensory transduction in bacterial-host interactions. Genes and operons that encode virulence factors are often subject to coordinate regulation in response to environmental signals, and bacterial virulence factors frequently target host cell signaling pathways. Specific areas of interest include: a) biochemical analysis of signal transduction pathways in pathogenic bacteria, b) genetic organization of bacterial virulence regulons, and c) in vivo and in vitro studies of mechanisms of pathogenesis. We are also investigating mechanisms involved in the induction of cytotoxic T cell responses by Listeria monocytogenes (LM). In the course of these studies, we have developed a new class of live Listeria-based vaccines with activity against heterologous pathogens and tumors. In a third project, we have discovered a new class of retroelements, called “diversity generating retroelements,” which are capable of generating vast amounts diversity in proteins involved in ligand-receptor interactions. The diversification process involves a unique template-driven, reverse transcriptase-dependent mechanism which is conserved among diverse bacterial species.

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