Dr Nathalie Juge

Research Leader




Gut Health and Food Safety Programme

Research Areas

Gut Health

Research in my group is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms underpinning gut bacteria-mucus interaction.  

There is an emerging paradigm that mucus is critical to maintain a homeostatic relationship with our gut microbiota and that any deviations from this dynamic interaction would have major implications for health, for example in colitis, colorectal cancer etc. The main structural components of mucus are heavily O-glycosylated mucins and it is believed that these endogenous glycans provide a consistent source of nutrients and binding sites to the microbiota.  However, because this is an emerging field of research and because of the difficulty associated in working with mucins, the mechanisms by which gut commensal interact with mucus have not been tackled at the molecular level. 

My laboratory employs a combination of genomic, molecular and biochemical techniques to investigate the mechanisms by which microbiota bacteria recognize and degrade the complex host glycans. We seek to answer questions such as ‘Does the mucus layer drive the composition of the microbial community along the GI tract? Does impairment of the mucus layer influence, or is it influenced by, bacterial colonisation and immune status? Can we restore homeostasis by targeting the mucus layer?’

This knowledge should yield new strategies to manipulate microbiota structure-function and ameliorate diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases, which are thought to result from imbalances in microbiota community structure. 

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