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. Hanford, H. E., Von Dwingelo, J., and Abu Kwaik, Y (2021).  Bacterial Nucleomodulins: A Co-evolutionary Adaptation to the Eukaryotic Command Center.  pLoS Pathogens, 17(1): e1009184.
  2. Vaughn, B., Voth K., Price, C. T., Jones, S., Ozanic, M., Marina Santic,Cygler, M. and Abu Kwaik, Y (2021).  An indispensable role for the MavE effector of Legionella pneumophila in Lysosomal evasion.  mBio, 2021;12(1):e03458-20. doi: 10.1128/mBio.03458-20.
  3. Price C.T. and Abu Kwaik, Y. (2021).  Evolution and Adaptation of Legionella pneumophila to manipulate the ubiquitination machinery of its amoebae and mammalian hosts.  Biomolecules 2021, 11(1), 112; doi:10.3390/biom11010112.
  4. Price, C. Jones, S., Mihelcic, M., Marina Santic, and Abu Kwaik, Y(2020).  Paradoxical Pro-inflammatory Responses by Human Macrophages to an Amoebae Host-Adapted Legionella Effector.  Cell Host& Microbe, 8:571-584.
  5. Best, A and Abu Kwaik, Y (2019).  Nutrition and Bipartite Metabolism of Intracellular Pathogens. Trends Microbiol. 27:550-561. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2018.12.012.
  6. Best, A and Abu Kwaik, Y (2019).  Evasion of phagotrophic predation by protist hosts and innate immunity of metazoan hosts by Legionella pneumophilla. Cellular Microbiology. 2019;21:e12971. (DOI) - 10.1111/cmi.12971.
  7. Von Dwingelo, Y., Chung, I., Price C. T., Li, L., Jones, S., Cygler, M., and Abu Kwaik, Y (2019). Interaction of the Ankyrin H Core Effector of Legionella with the Host LARP7 component of the 7SK snRNP complex.  mBio 10:e01942-19.
  8. Best, A and Abu Kwaik, Y (2018). Evolution of the arsenal of Legionella pneumophila effectors to modulate protist hosts. mBio 9:e01313-18.
  9. 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 < >
  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  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. 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

  16.  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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20.  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

  21. Bruckert WM, Abu Kwaik Y (2016).  Lysine11-linked polyubiquitination of the AnkB F-Box effector of Legionella pneumophila.  Infect Immun. 84:99 –107.  doi:10.1128/IAI.01165-15. Link

  22. 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.  PMC5337513Link

  23. 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

  24. 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