His laboratory has been studying the mechanisms of bacterial adhesion by utilizing an inter- and intra-species comparative approach. He discovered shear-enhanced bacterial adhesion that represents a novel mechanism of receptor-specific bacterial binding to surfaces which requires certain shear level to occur and has shown that shear-enhanced adhesion is not limited to mannose-specific adhesion of E. coli and appears to be a widely-spread phenomenon in bacteria. Current studies involve structure/functional characterization of purified components of the fimbrial adhesins utilizing region-specific monoclonal antibodies, parallel plate flow chambers and videoanalysis system, surface plasmon resonance, and atomic force microscopy. Additional projects focus on pathogenicity-adaptive evolution of microbial virulence traits. Pathogenicity-adaptive (pathoadaptive) mutational change of existing genes represents a mechanism of evolution of bacterial virulence that is alternative to acquisition of new genes by horizontal transfer. The most significant practical outcome of these studies was the development of Zonal Phylogenetic Analysis and haplotype diversity statistics for detecting the genes under selection in pathogens and identifying specific pathoadaptive mutations. His source-sink model provides a theoretical framework for understanding evolution via pathoadaptive mutations, as well as horizontal gene transfer. Lastly, he is investigating microevolution of microbial genomes, to understand dynamics of accumulation of the adaptive changes across the entire genome of pathogens in the course of clonal diversification and selection during colonization of novel niches. He collaborates with Drs. Moseley, Stapleton, and Fang.
Sokurenko, E.V., V. Chesnokova, D.E. Dykhuzien, I. Ofek, X.-R. Wu, K.A. Krogfelt, C. Struve, M.A. Schembri, and D.L. Hasty. Pathogenic Adaptation of Escherichia coli by Natural Variation of the FimH Adhesin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, Vol. 95, pp. 8922-8926. (1998).
Sokurenko, E.V., D.L. Hasty, and D.E. Dykhuzien. Pathoadaptive Mutations: Gene Loss and Variation in Bacterial Pathogens. Trends in Microbiology, Vol. (5), pp. 191-195. (1999).
Sokurenko E.V., M. Schembri, E. Trintchina, K. Kjaergaard, D. Hasty and P. Klemm. (From the Cover), Valency Conversion in the Type 1 Fimbrial Adhesin of Escherichia coli. Molecular Microbiology, 2001, 41(3), pp. 675-686.
Sokurenko E.V., V. Tchesnokova, A. Yeung, C. Oleykowski, E. Trintchina, K. Hughes, R. Rashid, M. Brint, S. Moseley, and S. Lory. Detection of Simple Mutations and Polymorphisms in Large Genomic Regions. Nucleic Acids Research Vol 29, No. 22, p. e111 (2001).
Thomas W.E., E. Trintchina, M. Forero, V. Vogel, and E. V. Sokurenko. Bacterial adhesion to target cells enhanced by shear force. Cell, June 28, 109(7): 913-23 (2002)