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MMI Faculty

Mark Peppler, PhD

Mark Peppler, PhD
Dept. of Medical Microbiology & Immunology
University of Alberta
Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
1-69A Medical Sciences Building
T6G 2H7 Edmonton, AB

Ph : (780) 492-2304
Fx : (780) 492-7521




  • Associate Professor, Dept. of Medical Microbiology & Immunology



Creator of MicrobeCards which describe 103 different bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. On the front of each card, there are microscopic images of typical colonies of the organisms, some with clinical photos, and on the back is a description of the diseases the bug causes and its pathogenesis, immunity, epidemiology, diagnosis and control. See the MicrobeCards link on the top right of this page.

Research in my laboratory is focused on the disease-producing mechanisms of the mammalian bacterial pathogens in the genus Bordetella. In particular, we have studied the interactions of Bordetella pertussis with human cells to characterize the molecular basis of whooping cough, a potentially serious disease in young children. As an outcome of this work, we have developed molecular methods to follow the spread of pertussis by pulsed field gel electrophoresis or PFGE and to facilitate diagnosis of the disease by fluorescent monoclonal antibody (Figure) and by polymerase chain reaction.

Accu-MAbFigure: Cover of the information leaflet for Accu-Mab, a dual monoclonal antibody reagent we helped develop with SPI Diagnostics of Edmonton, which detects B. pertussis (green fluorescence) and B. parapertussis (orange fluorescence) in clinical specimens.

B. pertussis and B. parapertussis have the ability to induce their own uptake into mammalian cells (arrows --Figure 2 ) and we reason that they do this to avoid destruction by the immune response of the person they're infecting.

B. pertussis uptake

In addition, we hypothesize that B. pertussis has developed a sophisticated means of controlling expression of its virulence-associated antigens (a process termed "phenotypic modulation") to enhance their survival inside cells. Trevor Stenson has produced monoclonal antibodies that recognize protein antigens that are expressed only when the pertussis bacteria are in the vir- state (so-called "vir-repressed antigens" or vras, Figure 3). These antibodies will allow us to test our hypothesis by seeing if the vras are expressed only when inside human cells. We also look forward to determining the biological functions of these proteins.

vir-repressed antigens

The lipooligosaccharide (LOS) or endotoxin of the outer membrane in B. pertussis has been another focus of our research. We are interested in the contribution this biologically-active molecule has in pathogenesis of whooping cough and M. Laurina Turcotte has approached the problem by developing Tn5 insertion mutants with altered LOS structures (Figure 4). Identifying the genes involved in LOS biosynthesis will help us detail the effect of structural change on biological activity of LOS.

Altered LOS structures

Useful Links:

Also check out promed, an electonic newsgroup on emerging pathogens moderated by Jack Woodall at the New York Department of Heath. Subscribe by emailing to and in the body of the message (not the subject heading) type subscribe promed. Be sure to leave off any signatures or the promed system will get confused. They will email you in return on how to send messages for discussion or how to unsubscribe etc.




Selected Publications:

  1. Turcotte ML, Martin D, Brodeur BR, Peppler MS. Tn5-induced lipopolysaccharide mutations in Bordetella pertussis that affect outer membrane function. Microbiology 143:2381-2394 1997
  2. Vinogradov E, Peppler MS, Perry MB. The structure of the nonreducing terminal groups in the O-specific polysaccharides from two strains of Bordetella bronchiseptica. Eur J Biochem 267:7230-7237. 2000
  3. Hardwick TH, Plikaytis B, Cassiday PK, Cage G, Peppler MS, Shea D, Boxrud D, Sanden GN. Reproducibility of Bordetella pertussis genomic DNA fragments generated by XbaI restriction and resolved by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. J Clin Microbiol 40:811-6 2002
  4. Kunimoto DY, Peppler MS, Talbot J, Phillips P, Shafran SD. Analysis of Mycobacterium avium Complex Isolates from Blood Samples of AIDS Patients by Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis. J Clin Microbiol 41:498-9. 2003
  5. Peppler MS, Kuny S, Nevesinjac A, Rogers C, De Moissac YR, Knowles K, Lorange M, De Serres G, Talbot J. Strain Variation among Bordetella pertussis Isolates from Quebec and Alberta Provinces of Canada from 1985 to 1994. J Clin Microbiol. 41:3344-3347. 2003