Zarrinpar lab is interested in the intersection of gut microbiome, gut signaling, and host physiology/behavior. Technically, our lab focuses on using multi-"omic" approach to functionally characterize the gut microbiome (e.g. metatranscriptomics, metagenomics, and metabolomics), to functional manipulate the luminal environment (e.g. engineered bacteria), and to investigate mechanistic relationship of the gut microbiome and host physiology (e.g. host RNA-seq, host metabolomics).
Our laboratory has developed a novel technique to functionally manipulate the gut microbiome of conventionally-raised wild-type mice. Using vectors developed in our laboratory, we can "knock-in" genes into the gut microbiome that can affect luminal and host metabolomics. Hence, using these vectors, we can perform more mechanistic studies on how the gut microbiome can affect various physiological processes in the host. Using our technique, we have started to manipulate bile acids in the luminal environment and found effects on metabolism and behavior/cognition. Current neuroscience projects in the lab are focused on how addressing the hypothesis that bile acids are key mediators that link the microbe-gut-brain axis, and we are beginning to investigate how microbial biotransformation of bile acids can affect behavior and cognition and modulate neuroinflammation. Since the microbiome has been implicated in many neurological diseases, as well as regulating key neurotransmitters (e.g. serotonin) and gut-released neurotrophic factors, there is potential to use these vectors of new applications.