The DePas lab is focused on developing a clear picture of the geography of infection sites, determining how the spatial structure impacts bacterial activity and interactions with host cells, and recapitulating important aspects of the infection environment in vitro in order to gain an in-depth understanding of cellular processes that are relevant to pathogenesis.
To achieve these goals, we utilize MiPACT-HCR, a tissue-clearing and cellular visualization technique that allows for 3D imaging of fixed tissue samples, along with in vitro techniques to characterize the formation and dispersal of bacterial biofilms in conditions that mimic the in vivo environment. We are chiefly interested in nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), emerging pathogens that are particularly problematic for patients with Cystic Fibrosis.
By applying our in situ imaging methodology, we will determine the context in which NTM form biofilms during infection and how biofilm formation contributes to disease severity. In parallel, we will work with in vitro systems to develop a mechanistic understanding of the regulational pathways involved in NTM biofilm formation and dispersal. Ultimately we hope to develop the ability to control NTM aggregation and biofilm development in the context of infection.