Sharon Morley, M.D.,Ph.D.

Washington University

Lack of Protein Leads to Pneumococcal Infection

The most important cause of bacterial pneumonia is infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae, also called the pneumococcus. Dr. Morley and her team have developed a mouse model that is highly susceptible to pulmonary pneumococcal infection. These mice lack a protein that is required to control the movement and activa-tion of cells in the immune system. In the absence of this protein, pneumococcal bacteria are not cleared ef-fectively from the lungs of mice and the mice rapidly die of infection. The researchers seek to determine the requirements for this protein in multiple aspects of alveolar macrophage biology, including development, appearance, movement and activation.

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