Cristian Cortez, PhD.

Principal Investigator and Assistant Professor

Host-Pathogen Interactions Laboratory

PhD in Sciences, mention Microbiology, Inmunology, and Parasitology, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brasil.

Líneas de Investigación

1. Mecanismos moleculares de la patogénesis periodontal

  • Papel de la autofagia en la patogénesis de la periodontitis
  • Muerte y sobrevivencia celular durante la periodontitis
  • Microbiología periodontal: Potencial patogénico de las biopeliculas orales.

2. Patogénesis de la enfermedad de Chagas

  • Mecanismos moleculares de la invasión celular por Trypanosoma cruzi

Host-Pathogen Interactions Laboratory

Host-pathogen interactions laboratory

Our laboratory is interested in studying and elucidating the molecular mechanisms involved in the pathogen-host interactions. We focus on the role of host-lysosomes and cytoskeletal dynamics during host-cell invasion, and the signaling pathways responsible for the infected cell fate: survival or death. For this purpose, we use animal and in vitro infection models and methodologies that allow us to identify and quantify differentially regulated molecular markers during infection and high resolution microscopy for the direct visualization of pathogens interacting with different cell structures. Using transcriptomic analysis of shotgun sequencing (RNA-Seq) data we aim to identify, characterize, and validate new potential therapeutic targets and early predictive molecular biomarkers of disease.

Lines of Research

1. Molecular mechanisms of periodontitis pathogenesis

I. Role of autophagy in the periodontitis pathogenesis

II. Survival and cell death in periodontitis

III. Periodontal microbiology: Pathogenic potential of oral biofilm

2. Chagas disease pathogenesis

i. Molecular mechanisms of cell invasion by Trypanosoma cruzi


Cristian Cortez Plaza is a Principal investigator (PI) of the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics and Assistant Professor at the Universidad Mayor since 2016. He obtained his Bachelor´s degree in Medical Technology from the Universidad de Antofagasta in 2000 and his PhD in Sciences in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Escola Paulista de Medicina, Brazil (2008 – 2013). Later he held a postdoctoral position at the same university (2013-2015), where he developed and collaborated in several research projects related to the complexmolecular mechanisms associated with the interactions between pathogenic microorganisms and their hosts.

Dr. Cortez has several publications in journals of recognized international impact in the field of the cellular and molecular biology of infection. His scientific contribution has been awarded for his outstanding presentation of results and for the quality and originality of his works in several international congresses (2011, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018).

Selected publications

  1. Vicencio E, Cordero EM, Cortés BI, Palominos S, Parra P, Mella T, Henrríquez C, Salazar N, Monasterio G, Cafferata EA, Murgas P, Vernal R, Cortez C (2020). Aggregatibacter Actinomycetemcomitans Induces Autophagy in Human Junctional Epithelium Keratinocytes. Cells. 2020 May 14;9(5):1221. doi: 10.3390/cells9051221.

  2. Monasterio G, Budini V, Fernández B, Castillo F, Rojas C, Alvarez C, Cafferata EA, Vicencio E, Cortés BI, Cortez C*, Vernal R* (2019). IL-22-expressing CD4+ AhR+ T lymphocytes are associated with RANKL-mediated alveolar bone resorption during experimental periodontitis. Journal of Periodontal Research. Apr 29. doi: 10.1111/jre.12654. *Corresponding authors.

  3. Cortez C, Yoshida N, Bahia D, Sobreira TJ (2012). Structural basis of the interaction of a Trypanosoma cruzi surface molecule implicated in oral infection with host cells and gastric mucin. PLoS One; 7(7):e42153. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042153.

  4. Cortez C, Martins RM, Alves RM, Silva RC, Bilches LC, Macedo S, Atayde VD, Kawashita SY, Briones MR, Yoshida N (2012). Differential infectivity by the oral route of Trypanosoma cruzi lineages derived from Y strain. PloS Neglected Tropical Disease; 6(10):e1804. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001804.

  5. Cortez C, Real F, Yoshida N (2016). Lysosome biogenesis/scattering increases host cell susceptibility to invasion by Trypanosoma cruzi metacyclic forms and resistance to tissue culture trypomastigotes. Cellular Microbiology; 18(5):748-60. doi: 10.1111/cmi.12548.

  6. Cortez C, Sobreira TJ, Maeda FY, Yoshida N (2014). The gp82 Surface Molecule of Trypanosoma Cruzi Metacyclic Forms. Subcell Biochem 74:137-50. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-7305-9_6.

  7. Cordero EM, Cortez C, Yoshida N, da Silveira JF (2019). Signal peptide recognition in Trypanosoma cruzi GP82 adhesin relies on its localization at protein N-terminus. Scientific Reports; May 13;9(1):7325. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-43743-0.

  8. Cafferata EA, Terraza-Aguirre C, Barrera R, Faúndez N, González N, Rojas C, Melgar-Rodríguez S, Hernández M, Carvajal P, Cortez C, González FE, Covarrubias C, Vernal R (2020). Interleukin-35 inhibits alveolar bone resorption by modulating the Th17/Treg imbalance during periodontitis. J Clin Periodontol. 2020 Jun;47(6):676-688. doi: 10.1111/jcpe.13282.

  9. Demeu LMK, Soares RJ, Miranda JS, Pacheco-Lugo LA, Oliveira KG, Cortez Plaza CA, et al. (2019) Engineering a single-chain antibody against Trypanosoma cruzi metacyclic trypomastigotes to block cell invasion. PLoS ONE 14(10): e0223773. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223773.

  10. Cafferata EA, Castro-Saavedra S, Fuentes-Barros G, Melgar-Rodríguez S, Rivera F, Carvajal P, Hernández M, Cortés BI, Cortez C, Cassels BK, Vernal R. Boldine inhibits the alveolar bone resorption during ligature-induced periodontitis by modulating the Th17/Treg imbalance. J Periodontol. 2020 Jun 3. doi: 10.1002/JPER.20-0055.

  11. Pessoa CC, Reis LC, Ramos-Sanchez EM, Orikaza CM, Cortez C, de Castro Levatti EV, Badaró ACB, Yamamoto JUDS, D'Almeida V, Goto H, Mortara RA, Real F (2019). ATP6V0d2 controls Leishmania parasitophorous vacuole biogenesis via cholesterol homeostasis. PLoS Pathogen. 2019 Jun 14;15(6):e1007834. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007834.

  12. Maeda FY, Cortez C, Izidoro MA, Juliano L, Yoshida N. Fibronectin-degrading activity of Trypanosoma cruzi cysteine proteinase plays a role in host cell invasion. Infect Immun. 2014 Dec;82(12):5166-74. doi: 10.1128/IAI.02022-14.

  13. Clemente TM, Cortez C, Novaes Ada S, Yoshida N (2016). Surface Molecules Released by Trypanosoma cruzi Metacyclic Forms Downregulate Host Cell Invasion. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2016 Aug 2;10(8):e0004883. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004883.

  14. Rojas L, Melgar-Rodríguez S, Díaz-Zúñiga J, Alvarez C, Monasterio G, Rojas C, Cafferata EA, Hernández M, Cortez C, Carvajal P, Vernal R. Inhibitory effect of serotype a of Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans on the increased destructive potential of serotype b. Oral Dis. 2020 Mar;26(2):409-418. doi: 10.1111/odi.13237.

  15. Ferreira ÉR, Horjales E, Bonfim-Melo A, Cortez C, da Silva CV, De Groote M, Sobreira TJ, Cruz MC, Lima FM, Cordero EM, Yoshida N, da Silveira JF, Mortara RA, Bahia D. Unique behavior of Trypanosoma cruzi mevalonate kinase: A conserved glycosomal enzyme involved in host cell invasion and signaling. Scientific Reports; 2016 Apr 26;6:24610. doi: 10.1038/srep24610.



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