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Associate Professor Renato Morona

Telephone +61 8 8313 4151
Position Associate Professor
Fax +61 8 8313 7532
Building Molecular Life Sciences
Floor/Room 4 43
Campus North Terrace
Org Unit Molecular and Cellular Biology

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Biography/ Background

Renato was appointed as an academic staff member of the School of Molecular and Biomedical Science in April 2003. He is responsible for the co-ordination of the Infection and Immunity A level 3 course, and since July 2007 has been Head of the Discipline of Microbiology and Immunology. Renato has extensive experience in bacterial molecular biology and genetics, and has conducted research in the many areas, including: enteric pathogens, bacterial cell surfaces and molecules (pili, outer membrane proteins, lipopolysaccharides), bacterial pathogenesis, vaccines, and biotechnological applications.


B.Sc. (Adelaide), B.Sc. (Hons) (Adelaide), PhD (Adelaide) (1982)

Research Interests

Bacterial pathogens are the cause of significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. Efforts to develop new and novel therapies focus on identification of new drug targets, and understanding the mechanisms and molecules that lead to pathogenesis and disease. The pathogen that is the focus of my research is Shigella flexneri, the causative agent of bacillary dysentery. Bacterial cell surface molecules are important mediators of interaction between bacteria and hosts, and their structure, function and biogenesis are of particular interest.

Research is focused on several specific areas:

  • Structure and function of the S. flexneri IcsA protein.

  • S. flexneri actin based motility and cell to cell spread.

  • Biosynthesis of S. flexneri lipopolysaccharide O antigens.
  • Structure and function of Polysaccharide Co-polymerase proteins
  • Novel anti-virulence drugs to prevent bacterial diseases

Related collaborative research interests:

  • Biosynthesis and regulation Streptococcus pneumoniae capsule biosynthesis
  • Receptor mimic technology
  • Development of Biotin Protein Ligase inhibitors.

Research Funding

  • NHMRC Program Grant #565526 Paton, J., Jennings, M.P., Kobe, B., McEwan, A.G, Morona,R., Paton, A.W, Walker, M.J. Pathogenesis, treatment and prevention of bacterial infectious diseases.


  • Tocilj, A., Munger, C., Proteau, A., Morona, R., Purins, L., Ajamina, E., Wagner, J., Papadopoulos, M., Van Den Bosch, L., Rubinstein, J.L., Féthière, J., Matte, A., and Cygler, M. (2008) Bacterial polysaccharide co-polymerases share a common framework for control of polymer length. Nature Struct. Mol. Biol. 15:130-138.
  • Purins, L., Van Den Bosch, L., and Richardson, V., and Morona, R., (2008) Coiled-coil regions play a role in the function of the Shigella flexneri O-antigen chain length regulator WzzpHS2. Microbiology 154:1104-1116.
  • May, K.M. and Morona, R. (2008) Mutagenesis of the Shigella flexneri autotransporter IcsA reveals novel functional regions involved in IcsA biogenesis and recruitment of host neural Wiscott-Aldrich syndrome protein. J Bacteriol. 190:4666-4676.
  • Attridge, S.R, Wallerström G, Li, B.L., Morona, R., and Holmgren J. (2009) Differential immunogenicity of Vibrio cholerae O139 variants expressing different combinations of naturally occurring and atypical forms of the serogroup polysaccharide. Vaccine 27:1055-1061.
  • Morona, R., Purins, L., Tocilj, A., Matte, A., and Cygler M. (2009) Sequence-structure relationships in polysaccharide co-polymerase (PCP) proteins. Trends Biochem Sci. 34:78-84.

Professional Interests

  • Member, Australian Society for Microbiology
  • Member, American Society for Microbiology
  • Co-organiser of BacPath 10 (September 2009)
  • Invited Research Grant Reviewer for National and International Research Councils and Funding Schemes
  • Reviewer for International Journals
  • Invited Speaker at National and International Research Meetings

Expertise for Media Contact

CategoriesMedicine & Medical Research
Expertisemicrobiology; bacteria; disease; molecular biology; lipopolysaccharides; outer memrbane proteins; virulence; bacterial pathogenesis; shigella; dysentery; salmonella;
After hours(08) 8370 5258

Entry last updated: Sunday, 24 Jan 2016

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