Expanding the functional proteome of Mycoplasma pneumoniae

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The growing incidence of antibiotic resistance globally is a significant public health issue and as previously susceptible bacteria continue to develop resistance, we need to develop novel strategies to counter this trend. Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a genome reduced bacteria that is one of the major causes of bacterial pneumonia in close contact settings such as schools and hospitals. Children, the elderly, and the immuno-suppressed are commonly infected due to an under developed or impaired immune system. A successful vaccine against this respiratory pathogen is yet to be developed and treatment options are limited. Additionally, children are limited to one class of antibiotics due to the permanent side effects of other agents. Antibiotic resistance within M. pneumoniae was detected over a decade ago and has now spread to most of the Northern Hemisphere. Though infections are not typically fatal, M. pneumoniae can cause secondary co-infections; some of which can be fatal. The work presented within this thesis expands the functional proteome of M. pneumoniae, with the goal of discovering potential novel therapeutic or vaccine targets. This was initially achieved by examining the full repertoire of proteins exposed on the surface of M. pneumoniae. This thesis then addresses which host antigens these proteins potentially interact with during infection. Although a single protein was not chosen as a vaccine target, the result of the work presented here report a list of potential targets that participate in the colonisation of the respiratory epithelium. This thesis highlights that the interactions between M. pneumoniae and host epithelium are complex, and involve a wide range of diverse proteins. This thesis begins with an introduction to M. pneumoniae and what is currently known about the proteins involved during the interaction with the human host.
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