Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Bart C. Weimer, Marie K. Walsh


Bart C. Weimer


Marie K. Walsh


Dong C. Chen


John R. Stevens


Gregory J. Podgorski


Food-borne infections are a major source of mortality and morbidity. Salmonella causes the highest number of Food-borne bacterial infections in the US. This work contributes towards developing strategies to control Salmonella by (a) defining receptors used by Salmonella to adhere to and invade the host epithelium; (b) developing a host receptor based rapid detection method for the pathogen in food matrix; (C) and defining mechanisms of how probiotics can help alleviate Salmonella-induced cell death in the host epithelium.

We developed a cell-cell crosslinking method to discover host-microbe receptors, and discovered three new receptor-ligand interactions. Interaction of Salmonella Ef-Tu with Hsp90 from epithelial cells mediated adhesion, while interaction of Salmonella Ef-Tu with two host proteins that negatively regulate membrane ruffling (myosin phosphatase and alpha catenin) mediated adhesion and invasion. We also showed the role of host ganglioside GM1 in mediating invasion of epithelial cells by Salmonella.

Further we exploited pathogen affinity for immobilized gangliosides to concentrate them out of solution and from complex food matrices for detection by qPCR. A sensitivity of 4 CFU/ml (3 hours) in samples without competing microflora was achieved. Samples with competing microflora had a sensitivity of 40,000 CFU/ml.

Next we screened several probiotic strains for pathogen exclusion potential and found that Bifidobacterium longum subspp. infantis showed the highest potential for Salmonella enterica subspp. enterica ser. Typhimurium exclusion in a caco-2 cell culture model. B. infantis shared its binding specificity to ganglioside GM1 with S. ser. Typhimurium. Further, B. infantis completely inhibited Salmonella-induced caspase 8 and caspase 9 activity in intestinal epithelial cells. B. infantis also reduced the basal caspase 9 and caspase 3/7 activity in epithelial cells in absence of the pathogen. Western blots and gene expression profiling of epithelial cells revealed that the decreased caspase activation was concomitant with increased phosphorylation of pro-survival protein kinase Akt, increased expression of caspase inhibiting protein cIAP, and decreased expression of genes involved in mitochondrion organization, biogenesis and reactive oxygen species metabolic processes. Hence, B. infantis exerted its protective effects by repression of mitochondrial cell death pathway which was induced in the presence of S. ser. Typhimurium.




This work made publicly available electronically on November 21, 2011.

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