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Mary M. Weber, PhD

Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

Contact Information

Primary Office
3-370 Bowen Science Building (BSB)
51 Newton Rd
Iowa City, IA 52242

3-315M Bowen Science Building (BSB)
51 Newton Rd
Iowa City, IA 52242


BS, Biology, University of Akron
MS, Biology, Texas State University
PhD, Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M Health Science Center
Postdoctoral Fellow, Rocky Mountain Laboratories-NIH/NIAID

Education/Training Program Affiliations

Biomedical Science Program

Research Summary

Our laboratory studies how obligate intracellular pathogens, such as Chlamydia trachomatis and Orientia tsutsugamushi, co-opt host processes and subvert host defense mechanisms to establish their unique intracellular niches. To address these questions, we employ a multi-faceted approach using cell biology, microbial genetics, and immunology.

Chlamydia trachomatis: Chlamydia trachomatis is the leading cause of noncongential blindness (trachoma) and is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection worldwide. There is no vaccine and over 100 million new cases are reported annually.

All chlamydiae replicate in a host derived vacuole that is extensively modified by the pathogen through the incorporation of over 50 type III secreted proteins, referred to as inclusion membrane proteins (Incs). Using genetic, cellular, and molecular approaches, we have shown that a subset of Inc proteins are required for C. trachomatis pathogenesis and the absence of specific Incs triggers premature inclusion lysis, truncation of the bacterial developmental cycle and premature host cell death. Building on these findings, our laboratory is currently interested in 1.) Elucidating the role inclusion membrane proteins play in subverting host vesicular trafficking and 2.) Determining whether type III secreted effector proteins play a role in allowing specific C. trachomatis serovars to infect distinct tissues and cause disease.

Orientia tsutsugamushi: Orientia tsutsugamushi is the etiological agent of scrub typhus, a potentially fatal disease that afflicts over 1 million individuals annually. Despite its significant impact on public health, very little is known about its pathobiology; predominately due to the lack of a system for genetic manipulation and the inability to culture the bacteria axenically. Current projects in this area include 1.) Development of genetic tools for transformation and site-specific mutation of O. tsutsugamushi virulence factors and 2.) Determining the role secreted effector proteins play in O. tsutsugamushi evasion of the endo-lysosomal pathway.


Faris, R., McCullough, A., Andersen, S. E., Moninger, T. O. & Weber, M. M. (2020). The Chlamydia trachomatis secreted effector TmeA hijacks the N-WASP-ARP2/3 actin remodeling axis to facilitate cellular invasion. PLoS Pathog, 16(9), e1008878. PMID: 32946535.

Shima, K., Weber, M. M., Schnee, C., Sachse, K., K├Ąding, N., Klinger, M. & Rupp, J. (2020). Development of a Plasmid Shuttle Vector System for Genetic Manipulation of Chlamydia psittaci. mSphere, 5(4), e00787-20. PMID: 32848009.

Andersen, S. E., Bulman, L., Steiert, B., Faris, R. & Weber, M. M. (In Press). Got mutants? How advances in chlamydial genetics have furthered the study of effector proteins. Pathogens and Disease.

Faris, R., Weber, M. M. (2019). Propagation and Purification of Chlamydia tracomatis Serovar L2 Transformants and Mutants. BioProtocol. DOI: 10.21769/BioProtoc.3459.

Faris, R., Andersen, S. E., McCullough, A., Gourronc, F., Klingelhutz, A. J. & Weber, M. M. (2019). Chlamydia trachomatis Serovars Drive Differential Production of Proinflammatory Cytokines and Chemokines Depending on the Type of Cell Infected. Front Cell Infect Microbiol, 9, 399. PMID: 32039039.

Faris, R., Weber, M. M. (2019). Identification of Host Pathways Targeted by Bacterial Effector Proteins using Yeast Toxicity and Suppressor Screens. J Vis Exp,(152). PMID: 31710035.

Faris, R., Merling, M., Andersen, S. E., Dooley, C. A., Hackstadt, T. & Weber, M. M. (2019). Chlamydia trachomatis CT229 Subverts Rab GTPase-Dependent CCV Trafficking Pathways to Promote Chlamydial Infection. Cell Rep, 26(12), 3380-3390.e5. PMID: 30893609.

Weber, M. M., Faris, R. (2019). Mutagenesis of Chlamydia trachomatis Using TargeTron. Methods Mol Biol, 2042, 165-184. PMID: 31385276.

Weber, M. M., Faris, R., van Schaik, E. J. & Samuel, J. E. (2018). Identification and characterization of arginine finger-like motifs, and endosome-lysosome basolateral sorting signals within the Coxiella burnetii type IV secreted effector protein CirA. Microbes Infect, 20(5), 302-307. PMID: 29331581.

Weber, M. M., Faris, R. (2018). Subversion of the Endocytic and Secretory Pathways by Bacterial Effector Proteins. Front Cell Dev Biol, 6(1). PMID: 29417046.

Weber, M. M., Lam, J. L., Dooley, C. A., Noriea, N. F., Hansen, B. T., Hoyt, F. H., Carmody, A. B., Sturdevant, G. L. & Hackstadt, T. (2017). Absence of Specific Chlamydia trachomatis Inclusion Membrane Proteins Triggers Premature Inclusion Membrane Lysis and Host Cell Death. Cell Rep, 19(7), 1406-1417. PMID: 28514660.

Wesolowski, J., Weber, M. M., Nawrotek, A., Dooley, C. A., Calderon, M., St Croix, C. M., Hackstadt, T., Cherfils, J. & Paumet, F. (2017). Chlamydia Hijacks ARF GTPases To Coordinate Microtubule Posttranslational Modifications and Golgi Complex Positioning. MBio, 8(3), e02280-16. PMID: 28465429.

Weber, M. M., Faris, R., van Schaik, E. J., McLachlan, J. T., Wright, W. U., Tellez, A., Roman, V. A., Rowin, K., Case, E. D., Luo, Z. Q. & Samuel, J. E. (2016). The Type IV Secretion System Effector Protein CirA Stimulates the GTPase Activity of RhoA and Is Required for Virulence in a Mouse Model of Coxiella burnetii Infection. Infect Immun, 84(9), 2524-33. PMID: 27324482.

Weber, M. M., Faris, R., Tellez, A., Wright, W. U., Galvan, G., Luo, Z. Q. & Samuel, J. E. (2016). Modulation of the host transcriptome by Coxiella burnetii nuclear effector Cbu1314. Microbes Infect, 18(5), 336-45. PMID: 26827929.

Weber, M. M., Noriea, N. F., Bauler, L. D., Lam, J., Sager, J., Wesolowski, J., Paumet, F. & Hackstadt, T. (2016). A Functional Core of IncA Is Required for Chlamydia trachomatis Inclusion Fusion. J Bacteriol, 198(8), 1347-55. PMID: 26883826.

Faris, R., Weber, M. M., Seeger, D. R., Cavazos, D., de Graffenried, L., Murphy, E. J. & Jolly, C. A. (2016). Mitochondrial Glycerol-3-Phosphate Acyltransferase-Dependent Phospholipid Synthesis Modulates Phospholipid Mass and IL-2 Production in Jurkat T Cells. Lipids, 51(3), 291-301. PMID: 26797755.

Weber, M. M., Bauler, L. D., Lam, J. & Hackstadt, T. (2015). Expression and localization of predicted inclusion membrane proteins in Chlamydia trachomatis. Infect Immun, 83(12), 4710-8. PMID: 26416906.

Weber, M. M., Chen, C., Rowin, K., Mertens, K., Galvan, G., Zhi, H., Dealing, C. M., Roman, V. A., Banga, S., Tan, Y., Luo, Z. Q. & Samuel, J. E. (2013). Identification of Coxiella burnetii type IV secretion substrates required for intracellular replication and Coxiella-containing vacuole formation. J Bacteriol, 195(17), 3914-24. PMID: 23813730.

van Schaik, E. J., Chen, C., Mertens, K., Weber, M. M. & Samuel, J. E. (2013). Molecular pathogenesis of the obligate intracellular bacterium Coxiella burnetii. Nat Rev Microbiol, 11(8), 561-73. PMID: 23797173.

Chu, W., Zere, T. R., Weber, M. M., Wood, T. K., Whiteley, M., Hidalgo-Romano, B., Valenzuela Jr, E. & McLean, R. J. (2012). Indole production promotes Escherichia coli mixed-culture growth with Pseudomonas aeruginosa by inhibiting quorum signaling. Appl Environ Microbiol, 78(2), 411-9. PMID: 22101045.

Chen, C., Banga, S., Mertens, K., Weber, M. M., Gorbaslieva, I., Tan, Y., Luo, Z. Q. & Samuel, J. E. (2010). Large-scale identification and translocation of type IV secretion substrates by Coxiella burnetii. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 107(50), 21755-60. PMID: 21098666.

Weber, M. M., French, C. L., Barnes, M. B., Siegele, D. A. & McLean, R. J. (2010). A previously uncharacterized gene, yjfO (bsmA), influences Escherichia coli biofilm formation and stress response. Microbiology, 156(Pt 1), 139-47. PMID: 19833773.

Dusane, D. H., Zinjarde, S. S., Venugopalan, V. P., McLean, R. J., Weber, M. M. & Rahman, P. K. (2010). Quorum sensing: implications on rhamnolipid biosurfactant production. Biotechnol Genet Eng Rev, 27, 159-84. PMID: 21415897.