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Dr Sophie Helaine

Wednesday 1 March 2017 - Salmonella forms intracellular persisters with TacT

Persister bacteria are non-growing, antibiotic insensitive cells, the progeny of which are sensitive to antibiotics. Bacterial persistence is a common phenotype expressed by a large number of bacterial species and is thought to be responsible for relapsing infections. During Salmonella infection of macrophages an important proportion of bacteria enter a persister state via the action of class II toxin-antitoxin modules. These toxin-antitoxin modules encode a stable toxin that inhibits a vital cellular process and a labile, neutralising antitoxin, which is degraded under conditions of stress but otherwise binds and inactivates the toxin. We investigate the activity of three of these toxins, which are acetyltransferases and how bacteria recover from the persistent state.


After completing my Ph.D. at Universite Paris 5- Necker, Paris, France, in 2006 with Dr Vladimir Pelicic, I joined the CMBI in the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London as a Research Associate in the laboratory of Prof David Holden in 2007. I have been awarded a Junior Research Fellowship by Imperial College London in 2012 and started my own research group to study the formation and biology of Salmonella persisters during infection of the host. Our work allowed me to be granted an MRC Career Development Award from January 2015.