Seongmi K. Russell, MS, PhD

Postdoc Research Associate

Washington University in St. Louis (WU)

Bacteroides fragilis comprises up to 2.5% of the human microbiota, often acquired within the first month of life. A subspecies of B. fragilis termed enterotoxigenic B. fragilis (ETBF) encodes B. fragilis toxin (BFT), a zinc-dependent metalloprotease. ETBF colonization can lead to BFT-induced intestinal inflammation and tissue damage, which can increase an individual’s risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC). Our group has recently discovered that BFT enables lamina propria (LP) niche acquisition, revealing that BFT is expressed within the LP. Based on this observation, we hypothesize that BFT directly accesses the epithelial stem cells, exerting a unique spatial function in the colonic tissue by contributing to alteration of stem cell function. My research interest is to investigate the mechanism by which ETBF induces colonic epithelial stem cell remodeling predisposing to inflammatory disease and colorectal cancer.