George A. O'Toole, PhD
Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
Microbiology and Immunology
University of Wisconsin - Madison, Ph.D., 1994
Cornell University, B.S., 1988
After postdoctoral work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Harvard Medical School, Dr. O'Toole joined the faculty of the Department of Microbiology at Dartmouth Medical School in 1999
Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Programs
Molecular Pathogenesis Program
Dartmouth Medical School
Vail Building - HB 7550
Hanover NH 03755
The main focus of the O’Toole laboratory is the study of complex surface-attached bacterial communities known as biofilms. Biofilms can form on a wide variety of surfaces including catheter lines, surgical implants, contact lenses, the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis, industrial and drinking water pipelines, and on the surfaces of plant roots. In most natural, clinical, and industrial settings bacteria live predominantly in biofilms and not as planktonic (free-swimming) cells such as those typically studied in the laboratory. Bacteria growing in biofilm communities are of great interest to the medical community, because these bacteria become highly resistant to antibiotics by an as yet unknown mechanism. Although much has been learned about the types of microbes that can form biofilms, the morphology of these communities, and their chemical/physical properties, until recently little was known about the molecular genetic basis of biofilm formation or antibiotic resistance.
Studies in the O’Toole lab focus on:
• The molecular genetic basis of biofilm formation.
• The role of the intracellular signaling molecule c-di-GMP in controlling biofilm formation by pseudomonads.
• The signal transduction pathways regulating biofilm formation.
• The mechanisms by which biofilms form on biotic, or living surfaces, and why these biofilms are so highly resistant to antibiotics. We have developed a novel model system for studying biofilms on airway epithelial cells, and these studies are done, in particular, in the context of cystic fibrosis.
• The role of lysogenic phages in impacting biofilm formation.
Recent collaborative studies with Dr. Bruce Stanton’s group here at Dartmouth have explored questions of host-pathogen interactions, using the interplay between the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and airway epithelial cells as a model system. We are particularly interested in the role of the toxin, Cif, in altering epithelial cell biology and protein trafficking. We are also studying mechanisms by which P. aeruginosa delivers toxins to host cells.
Please visit the O'Toole Lab Home Page.
Classic Spotlight: Cyclic Di-GMP, the Molecule That Makes the Bacterial World Stop Going 'Round.
A PilZ domain protein FlgZ mediates c-di-GMP-dependent swarming motility control in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
The Inhibitory Site of a Diguanylate Cyclase Is a Necessary Element for Interaction and Signaling with an Effector Protein.
Sensational biofilms: surface sensing in bacteria.
Friendly Fire: Biological Functions and Consequences of Chromosomal Targeting by CRISPR-Cas Systems.
Species-dependent hydrodynamics of flagellum-tethered bacteria in early biofilm development.
Classic Spotlight: Quorum Sensing and the Multicellular Life of Unicellular Organisms.
Cystic Fibrosis Lung Infections: Polymicrobial, Complex, and Hard to Treat.
Iron-dependent gene expression in Actinomyces oris.
Contribution of Physical Interactions to Signaling Specificity between a Diguanylate Cyclase and Its Effector.