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Department of Biochemistry

Jeanne Salje Group Leader

>Salje Group website

The cell biology of obligate intracellular bacteria

Obligate intracellular bacteria have evolved to live in intimate proximity with eukaryotic host cells without being destroyed by them. By studying this interface, we can gain fundamental insights into the biology of both prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells, as well as the interactions between them. Obligate intracellular bacteria are also clinically important, being the causative agents of numerous human and animal diseases. My lab studies the fundamental biology of obligate intracellular bacteria with a particular focus on Orientia tsutsugamushi, causative agent of the life-threatening human disease scrub typhus that is endemic in many parts of Asia. Our studies range from genomics and bacterial physiology through to the intracellular infection cycle and mechanisms of pathogenesis.  Through our long-standing work in Southeast Asia, we aim to apply new scientific insights into Orientia tsutsugamushi to the development of improved diagnostics and treatments for scrub typhus. 


Key Publications:

Atwal S, Giengkam S, Wongsantichon J, Saharat K, Jaiyen Y, Chuenklin S, Chung T, Huh H, Lee S, Sobota R, Salje J, The obligate intracellular bacterium Orientia tsutsugamushi differentiates into a developmentally distinct extracellular state. Nature Communications (2022)

Atwal S, Chuenklin S, Bonder E, Flores E, Gillespie J, Driscoll T, Salje, J, Discovery of a diverse set of bacteria that build their cell walls without the canonical peptidoglycan polymerase aPBP. mBio (2021)

Mika-Gospordorz M, Giengkam S, Westermann A, Wongsantichon J, Kion-Crosby W, Chuenklin S, Wang L, Sunyakumthorn P, Sobota R, Subbian S, Vögel J, Barquist L, Salje J, Dual RNA-seq provides insight into the biology of the neglected bacterial pathogen Orientia tsutsugamushi. Nature Communications (2020) 

Batty EM, Chaemchuen S, Blacksell S, Richards AL, Paris D, Bowden R, Chan C, Lachumanan R, Day N, Donnelly P, Chen S, Salje J. Long-read whole genome sequencing and comparative analysis of six strains of the human pathogen Orientia tsutsugamushi. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. Jun 6;12(6) (2018) 

Atwal S, Giengkam S, Chaemchuen S, Dorling J, Kosaisawe N, VanNieuwenhze M, Sampattavanich S, Schumann P, Salje J.  Evidence for a peptidoglycan-like structure in Orientia tsutsugamushi. Mol. Microbiol.  105(3):440-452 (2017)