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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

Bacterial Reductionism: Host Thiols Enhance Virulence.
Sperandio V Cell Host Microbe 2015 Jul 18 1 7-8
Enteric Pathogens Exploit the Microbiota-generated Nutritional Environment of the Gut.
Pacheco AR, Sperandio V Microbiol Spectr 2015 Jun 3 3
The efficacy of immediate versus delayed antibiotic administration on bacterial growth and biofilm production of selected strains of uropathogenic Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Gandee L, Hsieh JT, Sperandio V, Moreira CG, Lai CH, Zimmern PE Int Braz J Urol 2015 Jan-Feb 41 1 67-77
Influence of the major nitrite transporter NirC on the virulence of a Swollen Head Syndrome Avian Pathogenic E. coli (APEC) strain.
Paiva JB, Leite JL, Silva LP, Rojas TC, de Pace F, Conceição RA, Sperandio V, Silveira WD Vet. Microbiol. 2015 Jan 175 1 123-31
Global analysis of post-transcriptional regulation by GlmY and GlmZ in enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) O157:H7.
Gruber CC, Sperandio V Infect. Immun. 2015 Jan
Structural and Mechanistic Roles of Novel Chemical Ligands on the SdiA Quorum-Sensing Transcription Regulator.
Nguyen Y, Nguyen NX, Rogers JL, Liao J, MacMillan JB, Jiang Y, Sperandio V MBio 2015 6 2
The gut commensal bacteroides thetaiotaomicron exacerbates enteric infection through modification of the metabolic landscape.
Curtis MM, Hu Z, Klimko C, Narayanan S, Deberardinis R, Sperandio V Cell Host Microbe 2014 Dec 16 6 759-69
The Interplay between the Microbiota and Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli.
Pifer R, Sperandio V Microbiol Spectr 2014 Oct 2 5
Cell-to-cell signaling in E. coli and Salmonella.
Kendall MM, Sperandio V Ecosal Plus 2014 Jun 2014
Cell-to-Cell Signaling in Escherichia coli and Salmonella.
Kendall MM, Sperandio V Ecosal Plus 2014 May 6 1


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)