Laurie Comstock

  • Professor of Microbiology
    Committee on Microbiology
  • Research and Scholarly Interests: Antimicrobial proteins, Bacterial antagonism, Bacterial interactions, Bacteroidales, Gut symbionts, Microbiome, Microbiota
  • Websites: Research Network Profile
  • Contact: lecomstock@uchicago.edu
  • Graduate Program: Microbiology

The human intestinal microbiota is a complex and dynamic consortium of microbes that is crucial for human health and disease prevention. Our lab has been studying the abundant bacterial members of this ecosystem to understand how they interact with each other both cooperatively and antagonistically to form these health-promoting communities. We use basic microbiological, genetic, biochemical, and gnotobiotic mouse analyses, combined with genomic, metagenomic and computational analyses to understand these complex interactions. We have discovered numerous classes of new antimicrobial proteins that these bacteria use to compete in their ecosystem, and we are studying their mechanisms of action, ecological properties, and how we may translate these molecules for human health benefits. Another focus of the lab is the evolution of microbes in the human gut and how genetic elements horizontally transferred between bacterial species personalize each individual’s gut microbiota and the phenotypes and community benefits conferred by these shared genetic elements.

Brigham and Women's Hospital / Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA
Postdoctoral Fellowship - Bacteroides fragilis genetics
1996

University of Maryland Medical Center / Center for Vaccine Development
Baltimore, MD
Postdoctoral Fellowship - Vibrio cholerae pathogenesis
1995

Wake Forest University Medical Center / Bowman Gray School of Medicine
Winston-Salem, NC
PhD - Microbiology and Immunology
1991

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY
BS - Biology
1987

A Combination of Structural, Genetic, Phenotypic and Enzymatic Analyses Reveals the Importance of a Predicted Fucosyltransferase to Protein O-Glycosylation in the Bacteroidetes.
Tomek MB, Janesch B, Braun ML, Taschner M, Figl R, Grünwald-Gruber C, Coyne MJ, Blaukopf M, Altmann F, Kosma P, Kählig H, Comstock LE, Schäffer C. A Combination of Structural, Genetic, Phenotypic and Enzymatic Analyses Reveals the Importance of a Predicted Fucosyltransferase to Protein O-Glycosylation in the Bacteroidetes. Biomolecules. 2021 11 30; 11(12).
PMID: 34944439

Bacteroidetocins Target the Essential Outer Membrane Protein BamA of Bacteroidales Symbionts and Pathogens.
Matano LM, Coyne MJ, García-Bayona L, Comstock LE. Bacteroidetocins Target the Essential Outer Membrane Protein BamA of Bacteroidales Symbionts and Pathogens. mBio. 2021 10 26; 12(5):e0228521.
PMID: 34517753

Mobile Type VI secretion system loci of the gut Bacteroidales display extensive intra-ecosystem transfer, multi-species spread and geographical clustering.
García-Bayona L, Coyne MJ, Comstock LE. Mobile Type VI secretion system loci of the gut Bacteroidales display extensive intra-ecosystem transfer, multi-species spread and geographical clustering. PLoS Genet. 2021 04; 17(4):e1009541.
PMID: 33901198

Analysis of a phase-variable restriction modification system of the human gut symbiont Bacteroides fragilis.
Ben-Assa N, Coyne MJ, Fomenkov A, Livny J, Robins WP, Muniesa M, Carey V, Carasso S, Gefen T, Jofre J, Roberts RJ, Comstock LE, Geva-Zatorsky N. Analysis of a phase-variable restriction modification system of the human gut symbiont Bacteroides fragilis. Nucleic Acids Res. 2020 11 04; 48(19):11040-11053.
PMID: 33045731

The evolution of tit-for-tat in bacteria via the type VI secretion system.
Smith WPJ, Brodmann M, Unterweger D, Davit Y, Comstock LE, Basler M, Foster KR. The evolution of tit-for-tat in bacteria via the type VI secretion system. Nat Commun. 2020 10 26; 11(1):5395.
PMID: 33106492

Nanaerobic growth enables direct visualization of dynamic cellular processes in human gut symbionts.
García-Bayona L, Coyne MJ, Hantman N, Montero-Llopis P, Von SS, Ito T, Malamy MH, Basler M, Barquera B, Comstock LE. Nanaerobic growth enables direct visualization of dynamic cellular processes in human gut symbionts. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 09 29; 117(39):24484-24493.
PMID: 32938803

The evolution of the type VI secretion system as a disintegration weapon.
Smith WPJ, Vettiger A, Winter J, Ryser T, Comstock LE, Basler M, Foster KR. The evolution of the type VI secretion system as a disintegration weapon. PLoS Biol. 2020 05; 18(5):e3000720.
PMID: 32453732

Genetic and Biochemical Analysis of Anaerobic Respiration in Bacteroides fragilis and Its Importance In Vivo.
Ito T, Gallegos R, Matano LM, Butler NL, Hantman N, Kaili M, Coyne MJ, Comstock LE, Malamy MH, Barquera B. Genetic and Biochemical Analysis of Anaerobic Respiration in Bacteroides fragilis and Its Importance In Vivo. mBio. 2020 02 04; 11(1).
PMID: 32019804

Utilizing Ribose Compounds: How Bacteroides PUL It Off.
García-Bayona L, Comstock LE. Utilizing Ribose Compounds: How Bacteroides PUL It Off. . 2020 01 08; 27(1):6-8.
PMID: 31951823

Utilizing Ribose Compounds: How Bacteroides PUL It Off.
García-Bayona L, Comstock LE. Utilizing Ribose Compounds: How Bacteroides PUL It Off. Cell Host Microbe. 2020 01 08; 27(1):6-8.
PMID: 31951823

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