Research Theme within School of Biosciences: Molecular Microbiology
Lab website address: www.biosciences-labs.bham.ac.uk/may/
Short research description
My research focuses on the molecular basis of host-pathogen interactions. My group combine high-resolution microscopy with molecular and genetic approaches to probe the events that underlie establishment and spread of infective agents; primarily the fungus Cryptococcus neoformans, but also the invasive zygomycete fungi and the bacterial pathogens Salmonella Typhimurium (a leading cause of food-poisoning) and Streptococcus agalactiae (the leading cause of neonatal meningitis in the developed world).
Full research description
The evolution and molecular basis of host-pathogen interactions
The continual struggle between pathogens and their hosts is a major selective force, resulting in the evolution of ever more complex host-pathogen interactions as both sides attempt to 'win' the conflict. We are interested in the molecular basis of such interactions and in how they have evolved.
To address these questions we combine cellular and whole-organism based approaches. At a cellular level, we study the interaction between cells of the mammalian immune system (primarily macrophages) and several pathogens. We are particularly interested in understanding how some organisms can survive, replicate and eventually escape from within macrophages. At the 'whole organism' level, we use the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, and the zebrafish, Danio rerio, as model hosts for several bacterial and fungal pathogens. Both nematodes and larval zebrafish are transparent, allowing us to conduct high-resolution imaging on infected animals.
For more information on our research and the members of our group, please see our lab website.
Listen to my podcast 'Infection' (MP3 - 16.5MB).
For a full list of recent publications please visit PubMed.gov
Chayakulkeeree M, Johnston SA, Oei JB, Lev S, Williamson PR, Wilson CF, Zuo X, Leal AL, Vainstein MH, Meyer W, Sorrell TC, May RC, Djordjevic JT. SEC14 is a specific requirement for secretion of phospholipase B1 and pathogenicity of Cryptococcus neoformans. Mol. Micro, 2011. 80(4): 1088-1101.
Carnell M, Zech T, Calaminus S, Seiji U, Hagedorn M, Johnston SA, May RC, Soldati T, Machesky LM, Insall RH. Actin polymerization driven by WASH causes vesicle neutralization and V-ATPase recycling before exocytosis. J Cell Biol, 2011. 193(5):831-9.
Marsh EK, van den Berg MC, May RC. A two-gene balance regulates Salmonella typhimurium tolerance in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. PLoS ONE, 2011. 6(3): e16839.
Voelz K, Johnston SA, May RC. Automated analysis of cryptococcal macrophage parasitism using GFP-tagged cryptococci. PLoS ONE, 2011. 5(12): e15968.
Amrit FR & May RC. Younger for longer: insulin signalling, immunity and ageing. Current Aging Science, 2010. 3(3):166.
May RC. Genome Sequences, in The New Optimists. Linus Publishing.
Amrit FR, Boehnisch CM, May RC. Phenotypic covariance of longevity, immunity and stress resistance in the caenorhabditis nematodes. PLoS ONE, 2010. 5(4):e9978.
Voelz K, Johnston SA, May RC. Intracellular replication and exit strategies. In Cryptococcus, American Society for Microbiology Publishing.
Johnston SA, May RC. The Human Fungal Pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans Escapes Macrophages by a Phagosome Emptying Mechanism that is Inhibited by Arp2/3 Complex-Mediated Actin Polymerisation. PLoS Pathogens, 2010. 6(8): e1001041.
Ma H, May RC. Mitochondria and the regulation of hypervirulence in the fatal fungal outbreak on Vancouver Island. Virulence, 2010. 1(3): 197-201
Voelz K & May RC. Cryptococcal interactions with the host immune system. Eukaryotic Cell 2010. Jun9(6): 835-846
Byrnes EJ III, Li W, Lewit Y, Ma H, Voelz K, Ren P, Carter DA, Chaturvedi V, Bildfell RJ, May RC, Heitman J. Emergence and Pathogenicity of Highly Virulent Cryptococcus gattii Genotypes in the Northwest United States. PLoS Pathogens 2010. 6(4): e1000850
Ma H, Hagen F, Stekel DJ, Johnston SA, Sionov E, Falk R, Polacheck I, Boekhout T, May RC. The fatal fungal outbreak on Vancouver Island is characterized by enhanced intracellular parasitism driven by mitochondrial regulation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Aug 4;106(31):12980-5.
Voelz K, Lammas DA, May RC. Cytokine signaling regulates the outcome of intracellular macrophage parasitism by Cryptococcus neoformans. Infect Immun. 2009 Aug;77(8):3450-7.
Ma H, May RC. Virulence in Cryptococcus species. Adv Appl Microbiol. 2009;67:131-90.
Ma H, Croudace JE, Lammas DA, May RC. Direct cell-to-cell spread of a pathogenic yeast. BMC Immunol. 2007 Aug 16;8:15.
May RC. Gender, immunity and the regulation of longevity. Bioessays. 2007 Aug;29(8):795-802.
Ma H, Croudace JE, Lammas DA, May RC. Expulsion of live pathogenic yeast by macrophages. Curr Biol. 2006 Nov 7;16(21):2156-60.
van den Berg MC, Woerlee JZ, Ma H, May RC. Sex-dependent resistance to the pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans. Genetics. 2006 Jun;173(2):677-83.