Dr. J. Christian Perez
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
McGovern Medical School
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
My laboratory uses a variety of experimental and computational approaches to gain insights into (1) gene regulatory circuits and (2) microbial interactions with the mammalian host.
Transcriptional circuits are central to the regulation of many biological processes. The laboratory is interested in understanding these circuits’ underlying logic and structure, how they control particular traits of interest and how they change over evolutionary timescales. Our main experimental organism to address these questions is Candida albicans, the most prominent yeast species residing in healthy humans and also a major cause of serious fungal infections. We seek to gain insights into the biology of this unicellular eukaryotic organism through the study of its transcriptional regulatory circuitry.
C. albicans is a prominent non-bacterial member of the gut microbiota in humans. While the vast majority of microbiota studies focus exclusively on bacteria, our laboratory is exploring the significance of the fungal component in this vast microbial community. We have adopted a gnotobiotic mouse model of gut colonization in which we establish mono- or co-colonization of C. albicans and/or other microbes of interest. Using a combination of high-resolution fluorescence microscopy and several -omics approaches (e.g. metabolomics, transcriptomics, lipidomics), this powerful experimental system is allowing us to investigate the host responses elicited by commensal fungi in the intestine as well as the in vivo interplay between fungal and bacterial members of the gut microbiota.