We are interested in understanding the molecular interplay between bacteria and the complement system, an important part of the host immune response. Upon contact with bacteria, the plasma proteins of the complement system rapidly organize into a proteolytic cascade that generates chemoattractants to attract immune cells and labels bacteria for phagocytosis.
Furthermore, complement directly kills bacteria via a pore-forming complex. Thus far, our work mainly focused on deciphering the mechanisms exploited by pathogenic bacteria to block complement. In the coming years we will focus on deciphering the mechanistic insights on how bacteria are killed by complement. This will create new avenues for blocking the undesired complement activation during systemic infections and will improve desired complement activation by therapeutic antibodies and vaccination strategies in infectious diseases.
Since March 1th 2018, Suzan Rooijakkers is appointed Professor ‘Bacterial Infections and Immunity’!