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Published: 2024-02-13 Updated: 2024-05-16, 10:53

UCMR Distinguished Guest Seminar: Kim Orth

NEWS Within the framework of the UCMR Distinguished Guests Seminars Series, professor Kim Orth gives a lecture on virulence factors in pathogenic bacteria that provide molecular insight into eukaryotic signaling systems.

Time: Thursday 16 May at 15:15-16:15
Venue: Carl Kempe salen (stora hörsalen), KBC, Umeå University
Host: Christian Hedberg, Department of Chemistry

Registration: Registration is not needed

BlackSpot, Black Death, Black Pearl: Tales of Bacterial Effectors

Kim Orth, Professor at HHMI/UT Southwestern Medical Center

My lab is interested in elucidation the activity of virulence factors from pathogenic bacteria so that we can gain novel molecular insight into eukaryotic signaling systems. The marine bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus is the worldwide leading cause of seafood-borne acute gastroenteritis. We are working on the two V. parahaemolyticus type 3 secretion systems (T3SS1 and T3SS2) and their bacterial effectors to understand how signaling systems in the eukaryotic host can be manipulated by these bacterial pathogens. Each of the two T3SSs uses a unique repertoire of effectors to manipulate host signaling. The first T3SS1 is thought to be used maintain V. parahaemolyticus’ survival in the environment, while the second T3SS2 is used for pathogenesis in an animal host.

For decades, this pathogen has been studied exclusively as an extracellular bacterium. However, recent studies from our lab have revealed the pathogen’s ability to invade and replicate within host cells and then escape using the second T3SS2. Our studies have elucidated novel evolutionarily conserved mechanism that used by both host and pathogen. One of these, AMPylation, is an important mechanism used for maintaining homeostasis by all metazoan cells when under stress.  

Our work at UT Southwestern is accomplished using a broad range of tools, including biochemistry, molecular microbiology, protein chemistry, structural biology, yeast genetics, cell biology and more.


Kim Orth is a microbiologist and biochemist. She is a professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at UT Southwestern, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Her research focuses on bacterial pathogenesis.

Kim Orth graduated from Texas A&M University in 1984 with a B.S. in biochemistry. She went to the UCLA School of Medicine for an M.S. in biological chemistry, and then to University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center for a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology. After obtaining her PhD in Biological Chemistry at UT Southwestern Medical Center, she moved to the University of Michigan. Over the course of seven years at University of Michigan, she had multiple productive postdocs in various fields. During her final postdoc at the University of Michigan, she discovered the field of host-pathogen interactions. After two years of working in this field, she accepted faculty position in 2001 at UT Southwestern Medical Center in the Department of Molecular Biology and became an Earl A. Forsythe Chair in Biomedical Science.