Melissa M. Kendall


  • PhD, Portland State University

Primary Appointment

  • Assistant Professor, Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology


Research Interest(s)

Virulence gene expression in enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7

Research Description

My research aims to understand how the human pathogen enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 (EHEC) integrates environmental signals in order to colonize the host intestinal tract and coordinate expression of virulence genes.

EHEC is a normal resident of cattle, but can cause disease in humans following the ingestion of contaminated food or water. EHEC attaches intimately to intestinal epithelial cells and triggers extensive cytoskeletal rearrangements resulting in attaching and effacing (AE) lesions and formation of a characteristic pedestal structure. Most of the genes involved in AE lesion formation are encoded within a chromosomal pathogenicity island called the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE). The mortality associated with EHEC infections is due to the production and release of a Shiga toxin (Stx) by these bacteria. Stx is a potent inhibitor of protein synthesis that binds to receptors found in the kidneys and the central nervous system, thus causing the complications associated with EHEC disease.

In order to successfully cause disease, EHEC must compete with the indigenous microbiota for nutrients. Ethanolamine (EA) is present in the large intestine due to the turnover of intestinal cells as well as through the host diet. EHEC uses EA as a nitrogen source and thus gains a competitive advantage for colonization over the indigenous microbiota. Recently, we have shown that EA is not only important for nitrogen metabolism, but that it is also used as a signaling molecule to activate genes involved in inter-kingdom signaling, AE lesion formation, and Stx production (Kendall et al., 2012).

Our laboratory is interested in trying to understand the regulatory cascade involved in ethanolamine metabolism and virulence gene expression in EHEC. Further understanding of this regulatory system will lead to the identification of novel virulence factors and may lead to the development of anti-virulence therapies.

Selected Publications

  • Gonyar L, Kendall M. Ethanolamine and Choline Promote Expression of Putative and Characterized Fimbriae in Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7. Infection and immunity. 2013;82(1): 193-201. PMID: 24126525 | PMCID: PMC3911853
  • Luzader D, Clark D, Gonyar L, Kendall M. EutR is a direct regulator of genes that contribute to metabolism and virulence in enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7. Journal of bacteriology. 2013;195(21): 4947-53. PMID: 23995630 | PMCID: PMC3807496
  • Kendall M, Gruber C, Parker C, Sperandio V. Ethanolamine controls expression of genes encoding components involved in interkingdom signaling and virulence in enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7. mBio. 2012;3(3). PMID: 22589288 | PMCID: PMC3372972
  • Kendall M, Gruber C, Rasko D, Hughes D, Sperandio V. Hfq virulence regulation in enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 strain 86-24. Journal of bacteriology. 2011;193(24): 6843-51. PMID: 21984790 | PMCID: PMC3232842
  • Kendall M, Rasko D, Sperandio V. The LysR-type regulator QseA regulates both characterized and putative virulence genes in enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7. Molecular microbiology. 2010;76(5): 1306-21. PMID: 20444105 | PMCID: PMC2936457
  • Vazquez-Juarez R, Kuriakose J, Rasko D, Ritchie J, Kendall M, Slater T, Sinha M, Luxon B, Popov V, Waldor M, Sperandio V, Torres A. CadA negatively regulates Escherichia coli O157:H7 adherence and intestinal colonization. Infection and immunity. 2008;76(11): 5072-81. PMID: 18794292 | PMCID: PMC2573373
  • Kendall M, Rasko D, Sperandio V. Global effects of the cell-to-cell signaling molecules autoinducer-2, autoinducer-3, and epinephrine in a luxS mutant of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli. Infection and immunity. 2007;75(10): 4875-84. PMID: 17635870 | PMCID: PMC2044543
  • Reading N, Torres A, Kendall M, Hughes D, Yamamoto K, Sperandio V. A novel two-component signaling system that activates transcription of an enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli effector involved in remodeling of host actin. Journal of bacteriology. 2007;189(6): 2468-76. PMID: 17220220 | PMCID: PMC1899401
  • Kendall M, Boone D. Cultivation of methanogens from shallow marine sediments at Hydrate Ridge, Oregon. Archaea (Vancouver, B.C.). 2006;2(1): 31-8. PMID: 16877319 | PMCID: PMC2685590
  • Kendall M, Liu Y, Boone D. Butyrate- and propionate-degrading syntrophs from permanently cold marine sediments in Skan Bay, Alaska, and description of Algorimarina butyrica gen. nov., sp. nov. FEMS microbiology letters. 2006;262(1): 107-14. PMID: 16907746
  • Kendall M, Liu Y, Sieprawska-Lupa M, Stetter K, Whitman W, Boone D. Methanococcus aeolicus sp. nov., a mesophilic, methanogenic archaeon from shallow and deep marine sediments. International journal of systematic and evolutionary microbiology. 2006;56 1525-9. PMID: 16825624
  • Kendall M, Sperandio V. Quorum sensing by enteric pathogens. Current opinion in gastroenterology. 2006;23(1): 10-5. PMID: 17133078
  • Kendall M, Wardlaw G, Tang C, Bonin A, Liu Y, Valentine D. Diversity of Archaea in marine sediments from Skan Bay, Alaska, including cultivated methanogens, and description of Methanogenium boonei sp. nov. Applied and environmental microbiology. 2006;73(2): 407-14. PMID: 17122405 | PMCID: PMC1796967
  • Singh N, Kendall M, Liu Y, Boone D. Isolation and characterization of methylotrophic methanogens from anoxic marine sediments in Skan Bay, Alaska: description of Methanococcoides alaskense sp. nov., and emended description of Methanosarcina baltica. International journal of systematic and evolutionary microbiology. 2005;55 2531-8. PMID: 16280522