Yousef Abu Kwaik, Ph.D.

Research Interests

Dr. Abu Kwaik’s research area is focused on Cellular Microbiology, which is the interface of Cell Biology and Pathogenic Microbiology.  The research studies involve mechanisms of exploitation of the host cell biology by the two intracellular bacterial pathogens, Legionella and Francisella, and this microbial exploitation is essential for the pathogens to cause disease.

Legionella invades and replicates within macrophages in the lungs causing pneumonia, designated Legionnaires' disease. In natural water resources, Legionella invades and replicates within amoebae, which is essential for transmission to human. After entry into amoeba and human cells, the bacterium is enclosed in a vacuole that evades host degradation pathways.  The other pathogen, Francisella, is classified as a bioterrorism agent that causes the fatal disease tularemia, and this organism is extremely infectious and is transmitted by inhalation or by insect bites.  Upon infection of humans, the bacteria invade and replicate in the cytoplasm of macrophages through avoidance of host degradation pathways.

The research studies are focused on the bacterial virulence factors that enable Legionella and Francisella to manipulate host cell biology and to proliferate intracellularly.  These bacterial factors are potential targets for novel antibiotics, for prevention and vaccination.  Studies in the lab involve human cells, amoeba, and insect cells.  Dr. Abu Kwaik is an editor of recent books on Legionella and Francisella .



  1. Perpich, J., Kalia, A., Price, C.T., Jones, S. C., Wong, K. C., Gehring, K. and Abu Kwaik, Y (2017).  Divergent evolution of Di-lysine ER retention vs. farnesylation motif-mediated anchoring of the AnkB virulence effector to the Legionella-containing vacuolar membrane.  Sci.Rep. 11;7:5123. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05211-5. Link
  2. Marecic V, Shevchuk O, Ozanic M, Mihelcic M, Steinert M, Jurak Begonja A, Abu Kwaik Y and Santic M (2017). Isolation of F. novicida-Containing Phagosome from Infected Human Monocyte Derived Macrophages. Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol. 7:303. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2017.00303. Link
  3. Best, A., Price, C., Ozanic, M., Santic, M., Jones, S, and Abu Kwaik, Y (2018). A Legionella pneumophila amylase is essential for intracellular replication in human macrophages and amoebae. Sci Rep8, 6340, doi:10.1038/s41598-018-24724-1. Link < >
  4. Best, A., Jones, S, and Abu Kwaik, Y (2018). Mammalian Solute Carrier (SLC)-like transporters of Legionella pneumophila.  Sci Rep , 8:8352, DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-26782-x Link
  5. Wong, K., Perpich, JD., Kozlov, G., Cygler, M., Abu Kwaik, Y., Gehring, K (2017).  Structural Mimicry by a Bacterial F-box Effector Hijacks the Host Ubiquitin-Proteasome System. Structure 25, 376–383.  PMID: 28111017.  Link
  6. Price, C.T. and Abu Kwaik, Y (2017). Host FIH-mediated asparaginyl hydroxylation of translocated Legionella pneumophila effectors.  Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol. 7:54. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2017.00054. PMID:28321389.  PMC5337513, Link
  7. Bruckert WM, Abu Kwaik Y (2016).  Lysine11-linked polyubiquitination of the AnkB F-Box effector of Legionella pneumophilaInfect Immun. 84:99 –107.  doi:10.1128/IAI.01165-15. Link
  8. Abu Kwaik, Y. and Bumann, D. (2015).  Host Delivery of Favorite Meals for Intracellular Pathogens.  PLoS Pathog 11(6): e1004866. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004866. Link
  9. Bruckert WM, Abu Kwaik Y (2015) The complete and ubiquitinated proteome of the Legionella-containing vacuole within human macrophages. J. Proteome Res. 2015, 14, 236−248.  DOI: 10.1021/pr500765x.  Link
  10. Price CT, Abu Kwaik Y (2015) The transcriptome of Legionella pneumophila-infected human monocyte-derived macrophages. PLoS One 9(12): e114914. doi:10.1371/journal.pone. 0114914.  Link
  11. Bruckert, W.M., Price, C.T., and Abu Kwaik, Y (2014).  Rapid Nutritional Remodeling of the Host Cell Upon Attachment of Legionella pneumophila.  Infect.Immun., 82:1 72-82. Link
  12. Price, C. T. and Abu Kwaik, Y.  One bacterial effector with two distinct catalytic activities by different strains.  EMBO Reports, 2013, 14(9):753-4. DOI:10.1038/embor.2013.126. Link
  13. Abu Kwaik, Y. and Bumann, D.  Microbial Quest for Food in vivo: “Nutritional virulence” as an emerging paradigm.  Cell.Microbiol., 2013, 15, 882–890. Link
  14. Richards, A.M., von Dwingelo, J.E., Price, C.T., and Abu Kwaik, Y.  Cellular Microbiology and Molecular Ecology of Legionella-Amoeba Interaction.  Virulence, 2013, 4:1-8. Link
  15. Al-Quadan, T., Price, and Abu Kwaik, Y. Exploitation of evolutionarily conserved amoeba and mammalian processes by Legionella. 2012, Ternds.Microbiol., 20:299-306. Link
  16. Price, C. T., Al-Quadan, T., Santic, M., Rosenshine, I., Abu Kwaik, Y. Host Proteasomal Degradation Generates Amino Acids Essential for Intracellular Bacterial Growth. 2011, Science 334, 1553-1557. Link
  17. Price, C. T., Al-Quadan, T. Santic, M, and Abu Kwaik, Y. Exploitation of conserved eukaryotic host cell farnesylation machinery by an F-box effector of Legionellapneumophila. J.Exp.Med., 2010. 207: 1713-1726. Link