Bacterial infections: translational genomics, immunity and prevention

​Description of Research

The research projects of this group focus on respiratory bacterial pathogens, host immunity and genetic susceptibility to infectious diseases. The laboratory also serves as the National Reference Laboratory for Pertussis and Diphtheria. The research group is leading a EUpertstrain network in which 13 pertussis reference and research laboratories in ten European countries are involved. The group is currently coordinating an ECDC funded project entitled “Coordination of activities for laboratory surveillance of whooping cough in Member States and EEA countries”

The current research area includes:

  • To study effect of Toll-like receptor gene polymorphisms on nasopharyngeal bacterial colonization and on development of allergy and asthma in children
  • To study effect of polymorphisms of innate immune genes on cell-mediated and humoral immunity after pertussis vaccination and infection
  • Impact of changing from whole-cell to acellular pertussis vaccine on incidence of disease and bac-terial populations
  • Development of new diagnostic and molecular typing tools
  • Molecular surveillance of Corynebacterium diphtheriae 

Members of the research group

Alex-Mikael Barkoff, M.Sc, PhD student
Johanna Teräsjärvi, M.Sc. PhD student
Teppo Salminen, M.Sc. PhD student
Kirsi Gröndahl-Yli-Hannuksela, M.Sc. PhD student
Päivi Haaranen, B.Sc. Technician

Selected Publications

Gröndahl-Yli-Hannuksela K, Vuononvirta J, Barkoff AM, Viander M, Van Der Meeren O, Mertsola J, He, Q. Gene polymorphism in toll-like receptor 4: effect on antibody production and persistence after acellular pertussis vaccination in adolescence. J Infect Dis 2012;205:1214-1219.

He Q, Barkoff AM, Mertsola J, Glismann S, Bacci S, on behalf of the European Bordetella expert group (EUpertstrain), the European surveillance network for vaccine-preventable diseases (EUVAC.NET). High heterogeneity in methods used for the laboratory confirmation of pertussis diagnosis among European countries, 2010: integration of epidemiological and laboratory surveillance must include standardisation of methodologies and quality assurance. Euro Surveill. 2012;17(32):pii=20239.

Vuononvirta J, Peltola V, Mertsola J. He Q. Risk of repeated Moraxella catarrhalis colonization is increased in children with toll-like receptor 4 Asp299Gly polymorphism. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2013;32:1185-1188.

Xu Y, Liu B, Gröndahl-Yli-Hannuksela K, Tan Y, Feng L, Kallonen T, Wang L, Peng T, He Q*, Zhang S*, Wang L*. Whole-genome sequencing reveals the effect of vaccination on the evolution of Bordetella pertussis. Sci Reports 2015;5:12888. (*Corresponding authors)

Wang Z, He Q. Bordetella pertussis isolates circulating in China where whole cell vaccines have been used for 50 years. Clin Infect Dis 2015:61:1028-1029.


 Prof. Qiushui He