Faculty Profiles

Horacio Frydman

Horacio Frydman

Assistant Professor of Biology

PhD, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore 2002
Areas of interest: host-microbe interactions at the molecular, cellular and organismal level; mechanisms of bacterial transmission through stem-cell niche infection
(617) 358-5070

Current Research

My research generally focuses on understanding how microorganisms and their hosts interact at different biological levels (e.g., molecular, cellular, genetic, ecological and evolutionary). Specifically, I am interested in the interactions of the intracellular bacteria Wolbachia with their host cells. The infection of invertebrates by Wolbachia represents one of the great pandemics on this planet. Even though Wolbachia is one of the most abundant intracellular bacteria on earth, infecting up to 70% of arthropods and filarial nematodes, their mechanisms of transmission are poorly understood.

Beyond fundamental questions of host-microbe interactions, understanding Wolbachia biology also has specific medical relevance. Wolbachia provides new approaches to treat human and animal filariasis — devastating diseases including river blindness and elephantiasis — caused by parasitic worms. Wolbachia is also a potential agent to control insect vectors that transmit diseases such as dengue, filariasis and malaria.

The broad aim of my laboratory is to identify the mechanisms required for maintenance of Wolbachia infection through successive generations of their host (vertical transmission) and for infection into new hosts (horizontal or infectious transmission). My work demonstrates that Wolbachia preferentially populate the stem cell niche, the region of the fly ovary containing the stem cells. Tropism for the stem cell niche provides a previously undetected route to reach the germ line. The targeting of stem cell niche by Wolbachia may facilitate their horizontal and vertical transmission. Our main focus is to understand the mechanisms of Wolbachia targeting of the stem cell niche and how it relates to their successful transmission.

Courses Taught

  • Stem Cell Biology

Selected Publications

  • Toomey ME, Panaram K, Fast EM, Beatty C, & Frydman HM (2013) Evolutionarily conserved Wolbachia-intrinsic factors control differential stem cell niche tropism in the Drosophila ovary and enhance vertical transmission. PNAS in press.
  • Fast E, Toomey M, Panaram K, Desjardins D, Kolaczyk E, Frydman HM (2011). Wolbachia enhance Drosophila stem cell proliferation and target the germline stem cell niche. Science, 334(6058), 990-2.
  • Frydman HM (2007). Wolbachia infection in Drosophila. JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments). Issue 2: March 1st, 2007.
  • Frydman HM, Li JM, Robson DN, Wieschaus E (2006). Somatic stem cell niche tropism in Wolbachia. Nature 441, 509-512.
  • Frydman HM (2006). Isolation of live bacteria from adult insects. Nature Protocols DOI: 10 1038/nprot 2006 131.
  • Ferree PM*, Frydman HM*, Li JM, Cao J, Wieschaus E, Sullivan W (2005). Wolbachia utilizes host microtubules and dynein for anterior localization in the Drosophila oocyte. Plos Pathogens 1, 111-124. (*Authors contributed equally to this work.)
  • Frydman HM, Spradling AC (2001). The receptor-like tyrosine phosphatase Lar is required for epithelial planar polarity and for axis determination within Drosophila ovarian follicles. Development 128, 3209-3220.