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Research in my laboratory investigates chemical, stress and nutritional signaling at the interface amongst the mammalian host, beneficial microbiota and invading pathogens. We devise a multi-disciplinary research program utilizing genetic, biochemical, chemical and structural approaches to investigate fundamental biological questions. Our research over the years has focused on:

 1) Bacterial cells sense several mammalian neurotransmitters as a means to gage the physiological and immune state of the host, leading to rewiring and reprogramming of bacterial transcription towards host and niche adaptation. We have also identified several bacterial  adrenergic, endocannabinoid and serotonergic receptors.

 2) We have shown that these bacterial neurotransmitter receptors also sense bacterial signals, such as the novel pirazynone family of AI-3 autoinducers, and indole, which in turn influence mammalian cell signaling, linking inter-kingdom chemical communication at the biochemical level. These studies highlight the co-evolution and the fundamental relationship between mammals and microbes, and that these signaling systems fully integrate bacterial and mammalian cell-behavior.

 3) We also reported that invading pathogens can hijack these inter-kingdom signaling systems to promote virulence expression. We translated these basic science concepts into strategies to develop a novel approach to anti-virulence therapies.

 4) Our work also explored how different chemical signaling systems shape bacterial/host relationships towards commensalism or pathogenesis. This work shows that different chemical relationships define the nature of host/bacterial associations.

 5) We have also shown that enteric pathogens exploit nutritional cues (Carbon, aminoacids and/or nitrogen sources) made available by the gut microbiota as signals to coordinate virulence regulation and modify the pathogen’s metabolism allowing for efficient host colonization.

6) Moreover the cross-signaling with neurotransmitters, which is a key event I the gut-brain-axis, can also lead to new insights into drug addiction, and repurposing of agonists and antagonists of the adrenergic, serotonergic and endocannabinoid systems as potential novel anti-bacterial therapies.


Graduate School
Unlisted - International Colle
Graduate School
Campinas State University (1995), Molecular Biology

Research Interest

  • addiction and the microbiome
  • Bacterial pathogenesis
  • Bacterial virulence gene expression
  • E. coli O157:H7
  • gut brain axis
  • Inter-kingdom signaling
  • pathogen-microbiota-host interactions
  • Quorum sensing


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Virulence properties and clonal structures of strains of Escherichia coli O119 serotypes.
Gonçalves AG, Campos LC, Gomes TA, Rodrigues J, Sperandio V, Whittam TS, Trabulsi LR Infect. Immun. 1997 Jun 65 6 2034-40
Cloning and characterization of the gene encoding the OmpU outer membrane protein of Vibrio cholerae.
Sperandio V, Bailey C, Girón JA, DiRita VJ, Silveira WD, Vettore AL, Kaper JB Infect. Immun. 1996 Dec 64 12 5406-9
The OmpU outer membrane protein, a potential adherence factor of Vibrio cholerae.
Sperandio V, Girón JA, Silveira WD, Kaper JB Infect. Immun. 1995 Nov 63 11 4433-8
Prevalence and association of the longus pilus structural gene (lngA) with colonization factor antigens, enterotoxin types, and serotypes of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli.
Girón JA, Viboud GI, Sperandio V, Gómez-Duarte OG, Maneval DR, Albert MJ, Levine MM, Kaper JB Infect. Immun. 1995 Oct 63 10 4195-8
Comparison between enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli strains expressing "F42," F41 and K99 colonization factors.
Sperandio V, da Silveira WD Microbiol. Immunol. 1993 37 11 869-75


Featured Books Legend Featured Books

Honors & Awards

  • NIH Merit award
    grant Meirt award (2017-2027)
  • ASM Eli-Lilly and Company-Elanco research award
    Oldest and most pretigious ASM research award (2015-2015)
  • GSK Discovery Fast Track challenge program
    drug discovery award (2014-2015)
  • Fellow American Academy of Microbiology
    Fellow of the AAM (2013)
  • Kavli Fellow
    Kavli Frontiers of Science National Academies of Science (2007)
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund
    Investigator in Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases (2006)
  • Ellison Foundation Award
    New Scholar of Infectious diseases (2004)
  • Dam Charitable Foundation
    Travel Grant (2000)
  • Pew Charitable Foundation
    Pew Latin american fellow (1997)

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • Vanessa Sperandio (2001-2020)