Francesco Renzi

Research interests

Francesco RenziFrancesco Renzi is a microbiologist (FNRS Research Associate) at the URBM, NARILIS institute, with expertise in molecular biology and genetics of bacteria. His research focuses on Bacteroidetes, a group of bacteria that include pathogens as well as members of the human and animal microbiota. In particular, he is interested in understanding how these bacteria build their cellular envelope, a dynamic structure, which is crucial for their biology and interaction with the host.

The main model organism studied is the dog oral commensal and human pathogen Capnocytophaga canimorsus.

More information about Francesco Renzi’s research...

 

 

MIS project Abstract: Study of lipoprotein export to the surface of Bacteroidetes

The phylum Bacteroidetes includes human pathogens and commensals as several members of the human microbiota that play a crucial role in health and disease in particular contributing to the control of gut homeostasis and protection against pathogens. A hallmark of these bacteria is the presence of surface-exposed protein membrane complexes (Sus-like systems).

These systems are unique and have a major role in the biology of Bacteroidetes since they allow the uptake and catabolism of a large variety of nutrients, mainly polysaccharides coming from the host.

During the last years, his work focused at characterizing the function of the Sus-like systems of the dog oral commensal and human pathogen Capnocytophaga canimorsus. He was able to show that these systems play a major role in commensalism and pathogenicity allowing these bacteria to feed on host glycoproteins, to degrade mucin and uptake iron from serotransferrin. Such systems are mainly composed of lipoproteins anchored to the outer membrane and facing the external milieu. This lipoprotein localization is uncommon in most studied Gram-negative bacteria while it is widespread in Bacteroidetes. Little is known on how these complexes assemble and in particular on how lipoproteins are transported to the bacterial surface.

Recently, a signal was identified, the LES, which drives lipoproteins to the surface of C. canimorsus and other Bacteroidetes. This finding suggests the presence of a common new bacterial lipoprotein export pathway that flips lipoproteins across the outer membrane of Bacteroidetes.

The aim of the present research program is to unravel the mechanism of transport of surface exposed lipoproteins using C. canimorsus and Flavobacterium johnsoniae as model organisms.

Overall, Francesco hopes that his research will contribute to a better knowledge of the complex biology of these particular emerging bacteria that are nowadays of extreme interest for the scientific community mainly because of their impact on human health.

Motivation IN the choice of the mentor

Francesco Renzi chose Professor Jean-François Collet, FNRS Research Director at the de Duve Institute at the UCL as a NARC mentor.

Jean-François Collet is an outstanding researcher recognized at international level. His main research interest is the study of the stress response mechanisms in bacteria. In particular, he tries to understand how bacteria build their envelope and how they are able to maintain its integrity upon stresses. This research line is very close to mine who aims at unraveling the export of lipoproteins that are crucial components of the bacterial envelope. Having him as mentor represents an excellent opportunity for Francesco to share his research with him and benefit from his advice to further develop his research activities.

Education – Academics – Professional Experience

  • 2020 - present: Assistant Professor at UNamur: teacher for the Master in Molecular Microbiology (MMM).
  • 2019 - present: Research associate of the F.R.S.-FNRS (Chercheur Qualifié) at UNamur, Unité de Recherche en Biologie des Micro-organismes (URBM), Biology Department, Namur, BELGIUM.
  • 2016 - 2019: Senior researcher in the lab of Prof. Guy Cornelis at UNamur, Unité de Recherche en Biologie des Micro-organismes (URBM), Biology Department, Namur, BELGIUM.
  • 2013 - 2016: Researcher (Chargé de Recherche FNRS) at UNamur, Unité de Recherche en Biologie des Micro-organismes (URBM), Biology Department, Namur, BELGIUM.
  • 2012 - 2013: Post-doctoral researcher in the lab of Prof. Guy Cornelis at UNamur, Unité de Recherche en Biologie des Microorganismes (URBM), Biology Department, Namur, BELGIUM.  
  • 2009 - 2012: Post-doctoral researcher in the lab of Prof. Guy Cornelis, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Basel, SWITZERLAND.
  • 2009:  Ph.D. in Genetics and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Milan, ITALY.
  • 2005: Master degree in Biological Sciences, University of Milan, ITALY.

 

Contact :

FNRS TV

Francesco Renzi, Chercheur qualifié FNRS, UNamur – « Une bactérie qui vit dans la gueule des chiens »

Biologiste, Francesco Renzi consacre ses recherches à Capnocytophaga canimorsus, une bactérie présente dans la gueule des chiens qui peut provoquer, en cas de morsure, le décès du patient.

 

Other memberships

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