Wu Lab

Our focus is investigating the underlying molecular mechanisms of biofilm formation for bacterial persistence and chronic infections.  We are particularly interested in understanding molecular cross talks between microbes and aim to develop new anti-infective approaches that prevent and treat persistent infections.​


Biofilm formation is crucial for bacterial persistence and chronic infections. The lab is interested in investigating the underlying molecular mechanisms by pursuing three specific areas of research.

  1. Bacterial protein glycosylation and secretion | We are using an oral streptococcus as a model to study glycosylation and secretion of a family of serine-rich repeat adhesins. This family of adhesins is highly conserved in pathogens and essential for biofilm formation and bacterial virulence. Our studies may help to uncover new targets that are amenable to therapeutic drug discovery using genetic, biochemistry, and structural biology approaches.
  2. Small molecule inhibitors of pathogenic biofilms | We are interested in developing small molecule inhibitors that can be used to probe biofilm development and signaling cascades and have the potentials to block biofilm formation and disperse preformed biofilms.
  3. Interactions between bacterial biofilms and hosts | We are investigating how the biofilm formation by oral bacteria modulates host responses and bone remodeling dynamics using disease models such as periodontal disease and infective endocarditis.

Lab members

We are a dynamic group of researchers studying bacterial biofilms and their role in health and disease. We use oral bacteria as a model to investigate how bacteria-host interactions contribute to the health of the oral cavity and the pathogenesis of oral infectious diseases, dental caries, and periodontal disease. The goal of our studies is to identify new targets that are amenable to the development of anti-infective strategies.

Our lab is diverse in members as it is in research areas. We are graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research associates, and visiting scholars.

Dr. Hui Wu

Dr. Hui Wu

Dr. Wu heads the school's Office of Research, which encompasses its outstanding research team and programs. He received his Ph.D. degree in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Vermont. In June 2004, he joined the faculty of the UAB School of Dentistry and was promoted to Professor of Microbiology and Dentistry in 2012 in the Schools of Dentistry and Medicine. In March 2020, he joined OHSU's School of Dentistry and now holds a OHSU Foundation Endowed Professorship in Research. His research interests lie in the study of bacterial biofilms in health and disease, and small molecule inhibitors of bacterial biofilms. View my OHSU profile.

Contact Information |wuhu@ohsu.edu

Dr. Rong Mu

Rong Mu Ph.D.

Dr. Mu attained her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from New Mexico State University, after which she pursued postdoctoral training at esteemed institutions such as San Diego State University and Oregon Health and Science University. As a senior research associate in Wu lab since 2020, her research interests revolve around the exploration of the biological function of bacterial second messengers, particularly c-di-AMP, through in vitro and in vivo studies using a fly model. Additionally, she is dedicated to investigating the mechanisms underlying the regulation of second messenger production in bacteria through the utilization of RNA profiling and protein-protein interaction strategies.

Contact Information | mu@ohsu.edu

Dr. Stephanie Momeni

Dr. Stephanie Momeni

Dr. Momeni is a NIDCR K99 Postdoctoral Scholar. She graduated with a Masters of Business Administration (2006), a Master of Science in Dentistry (2010), and a Ph.D. in Biology (Oral Microbiology, 2016) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Dr. Momeni's research is focused on investigating the role of oral microbiota on overall human health. Her current postdoctoral research is concentrated on the identification and role of novel metabolites in early childhood caries. View my OHSU profile.

Contact Information | momeni@ohsu.edu 

Dr. Xixi Cao

Dr. Xixi Cao

Dr. Cao is a Postdoctoral Scholar. She received her Bachelor's in Medicine from Wuhan University in 2013. In 2018, Dr. Cao received her Ph.D. in Stomatology from Wuhan University, studying novel anti-caries vaccines and antimicrobial effects of natural phytochemicals on dental caries-related bacteria. She then worked with Dr. Wu at his lab at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) as a visiting scientist, studying the dynamic interactions among various oral bacteria. Her current research interests are in the area of the microbiome, bacteria-bacteria, and bacteria-host interactions in health and diseases.

Contact Information | caoxi@ohsu.edu

Dr. Baotong Xie

Baotong Xie photo_Wu lab SOD

Dr. Xie received his Ph.D. in biochemistry and cellular biology from Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences of Chinese Academy of Sciences. He then, as a postdoctoral researcher, started to use Drosophila as a model organism to investigate neuronal cell fate determination at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. As a research assistant professor, Dr. Xie’s current research interests focus on: 1) using Drosophila to understand the host-microbiome interactions and the role of human oral bacteria in health; 2) understanding the molecular mechanisms of the Hippo signaling pathway in neuronal cell fate determination and in tissue growth control.

Contact Information | xieb@ohsu.edu

Dr. Islam Abdelhalim Abdelaziz Ali

Islam Ali postdoc in SOD Wu lab

Dr. Ali is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Hui Wu’s laboratory in the Department of Integrative Biosciences, School of Dentistry, OHSU. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree of dental surgery (2010) and a master’s degree of dental surgery in Conservative Dentistry & Endodontics (2016) from Faculty of Dentistry, Mansoura University, Egypt.  He completed his Ph.D. in Endodontology (2021) at Faculty of Dentistry, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Dr. Ali’s research is focused on studying the interactions among microorganisms responsible for dental root canal infections and exploring novel antibiofilm inhibitors against these infections.

Contact Information | alii@ohsu.edu


Momeni SS, Beno SM, Baker JL, Edlund A, Ghazal T, Childers NK, Wu H. Caries-Associated Biosynthetic Gene Clusters in Streptococcus mutans J Dent Res. 2020 Apr 16:22034520914519. doi: 10.1177/0022034520914519. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:32298190

Rainey K, Wilson L, Barnes S, Wu H. Quantitative Proteomics Uncovers the Interaction between a Virulence Factor and Mutanobactin Synthetases in Streptococcus mutans. mSphere. 2019 Sep 25;4(5). pii: e00429-19. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00429-19. PMID:31554721

Bowen WH, Burne RA, Wu H, Koo H. Oral Biofilms: Pathogens, Matrix, and Polymicrobial Interactions in Microenvironments.Trends Microbiol. 2018 Mar;26(3):229-242. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2017.09.008. Epub 2017 Oct 30. Review. PMID:29097091

Ruby J, Martin M, Passineau MJ, Godovikova V, Fenno JC, Wu H. Activation of the Innate ImmuneSystem by Treponema denticola Periplasmic Flagella through Toll-Like Receptor 2.Infect Immun. 2017 Dec 19;86(1). pii: e00573-17. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00573-17. Print 2018 Jan. Erratum in: Infect Immun. 2018 Jun 21;86(7):.PMID:29084899

Sun Y, Byon CH, Yang Y, Bradley WE, Dell'Italia LJ, Sanders PW, Agarwal A, Wu H, Chen Y. Dietary potassium regulates vascular calcification and arterial stiffness.JCI Insight. 2017 Oct 5;2(19). pii: 94920. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.94920. PMID:28978809

Zhang Q, Nijampatnam B, Hua Z, Nguyen T, Zou J, Cai X, Michalek SM, Velu SE, Wu H.Structure-Based Discovery of Small Molecule Inhibitors of Cariogenic Virulence.Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 20;7(1):5974. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-06168-1. PMID:28729722
Scoffield JA, Duan D, Zhu F, Wu H. A commensal streptococcus hijacks a Pseudomonas aeruginosa exopolysaccharide to promote biofilm formation. PLoS Pathog.2017 Apr 7;13(4):e1006300. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006300. eCollection 2017 Apr. PMID:28448633

Zhu F, Zhang H, Yang T, Haslam SM, Dell A, Wu H.Engineering and Dissecting the Glycosylation Pathway of a Streptococcal Serine-rich Repeat Adhesin.J Biol Chem.2016 Dec 30;291(53):27354-27363. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M116.752998. PMID:28039332

Peng X, Zhang Y, Bai G, Zhou X, Wu H.Cyclic di-AMP mediates biofilm formation.Mol Microbiol.2016 Mar;99(5):945-59. doi: 10.1111/mmi.13277. Epub 2015 Dec 15. PMID:26564551

Zhang H, Zhu F, Yang T, Ding L, Zhou M, Li J, Haslam SM, Dell A, Erlandsen H, Wu H.The highly conserved domain of unknown function 1792 has a distinct glycosyltransferase fold.Nat Commun.2014 Jul 15;5:4339. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5339. PMID:25023666