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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

Recurrent urinary tract infections in healthy and nonpregnant women.
Glover M, Moreira CG, Sperandio V, Zimmern P Urol Sci 2014 Mar 25 1 1-8
QseC Inhibitors as an Antivirulence Approach for Gram-Negative Pathogens.
Curtis MM, Russell R, Moreira CG, Adebesin AM, Wang C, Williams NS, Taussig R, Stewart D, Zimmern P, Lu B, Prasad RN, Zhu C, Rasko DA, Huntley JF, Falck JR, Sperandio V MBio 2014 5 6
Posttranscriptional control of microbe-induced rearrangement of host cell actin.
Gruber CC, Sperandio V MBio 2014 5 1 e01025-13
The acyl-homoserine lactone synthase YenI from Yersinia enterocolitica modulates virulence gene expression in enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7.
Nguyen YN, Sheng H, Dakarapu R, Falck JR, Hovde CJ, Sperandio V Infect. Immun. 2013 Nov 81 11 4192-9
Nutrient and chemical sensing by intestinal pathogens.
Hernandez-Doria JD, Sperandio V Microbes Infect. 2013 Jul
SdiA aids enterohemorrhagic E. coli carriage by cattle fed forage or grain diets.
Sheng H, Nguyen Y, Hovde CJ, Sperandio V Infect. Immun. 2013 Jul
Restrictive streptomycin-resistant mutations decrease the formation of attaching and effacing lesions in Escherichia coli O157:H7 strains.
Chen C, Blumentritt CA, Curtis MM, Sperandio V, Torres AG, Dudley EG Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 2013 Jun
The interacting Cra and KdpE regulators are involved in the expression of multiple virulence factors in enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC).
Njoroge JW, Gruber C, Sperandio V J. Bacteriol. 2013 Mar
Virulence and stress-related periplasmic protein (VisP) in bacterial/host associations.
Moreira CG, Herrera CM, Needham BD, Parker CT, Libby SJ, Fang FC, Trent MS, Sperandio V Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2013 Jan 110 4 1470-5
Fucose sensing regulates bacterial intestinal colonization.
Pacheco AR, Curtis MM, Ritchie JM, Munera D, Waldor MK, Moreira CG, Sperandio V Nature 2012 Dec 492 7427 113-7


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)