Dr Primrose Freestone

Senior Lecturer in Clinical Microbiology

Contact details

Office: 229b, MSB

Telephone: (+44) (0)116 252 5656/3017

Email: ppef1@le.ac.uk

Personal details

I'm a biochemist by training with extensive experience in bacterial physiology and biochemistry, including bacterial protein phosphorylation (I was the first to identify tyrosine phosphorylation as a regulatory mechanism in bacteria and provided key evidence concerning the biochemical function of the Universal Stress protein (uspA) in E. coli).

An active inventor, I've played a leading role in the identification, isolation, characterisation and biotechnological development of bacterial catecholamine-induced autoinducers (AIs) and iam principal inventor on UK and US patents involving AI usage, bacterial growth enhancement and diagnostics. For three years I was Research Director of BioNutrix LLC, a University of Leicester-US biotechnology company dedicated to commercially developing AI applications.

Also, I'm a past Medici Fellow and the current holder of two Innovation Fellowships to develop entrepreneurial activities in the area of life science biotechnology, as well as a consultant for PBL Technology Ltd, Norwich, and a mentor on the MBA degree at Loughborough University.

I'm an editorial board member of Recent Patents on Anti-Infective Drug Discovery, Bentham Publishers, and a member of the SGM, ASM and SFAM. She has research collaborations with Professor Mark Lyte, Texas Tech University; Texas, USA, Professor Charles Penn, University of Birmingham; Dr Anthony Roberts, School of Dentistry, University of Manchester; Professor Vic Norris, University of Rouen; Dr Nick Walton, Institute of Food Research, Norwich, and with colleagues at the University of Leicester, including Dr Jonathan Woodward, of the Department of Chemistry and within the Department of III - Professor Christopher O’Callaghan, Professor Richard Camp, and Dr Jonathan Barratt.

Departmental roles

  • Departmental Radiation Protection Officer
  • Departmental Life Long Learning Officer
  • Microbiology Admissions Tutor
  • Microbiology Careers Advisor

Research

I'm a co-founder and internationally recognised leader in the field of Microbial Endocrinology, a newly recognised research discipline which represents the intersection of microbiology, endocrinology and neurophysiology.

Microbial Endocrinology is directed at providing a new framework with which to examine and understand the ability of microorganisms to interact with a host in both health and disease (Freestone et al 2008, Trends in Microbiology). My Microbial Endocrinology research interests are focused on the relationship between stress and how it influences human and animal infection, particularly the effects of exposure to human stress hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline on bacterial growth and virulence. This research has led to the demonstration that stress hormones stimulate biofilm formation in normally harmless skin commensals such as Staphylococcus epidermidis, an important factor in the mechanism by which these inadvertent pathogens form biofilms within indwelling medical devices. This research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and was published as a lead article in the Lancet.

Other ongoing research projects include molecular analyses of stress hormone responsiveness in E. coli, Salmonella, the staphylococci, and other bacterial pathogens.

I am an editorial board member of Recent Patents on Anti-Infective Drug Discovery, Bentham Publishers, and a member of the SGM, ASM and SFAM.

I have research collaborations with Professor Mark Lyte, Texas Tech University; Texas, USA, Professor Charles Penn, University of Birmingham; Dr Anthony Roberts, School of Dentistry, University of Manchester; Professor Vic Norris, University of Rouen; Dr Nick Walton, Institute of Food Research, Norwich, and with colleagues at the University of Leicester, including Dr Jonathan Woodward, of the Department of Chemistry and within the Department of III - Professor Christopher O’Callaghan, Professor Richard Camp, and Dr Jonathan Barratt.

Patents and industry-related

I am an active inventor, playing the lead role in the identification, isolation, characterisation and biotechnological development of bacterial catecholamine-induced autoinducers (AIs) and is principal inventor on UK and US patents involving AI usage, bacterial growth enhancement and diagnostics. For 3 years I was Research Director of BioNutrix LLC, a University of Leicester-US biotechnology company dedicated to commercially developing AI applications.

I am also a past Medici Fellow and the current holder of two Innovation Fellowships to develop entrepreneurial activities in the area of life science biotechnology. I also am inventor of a recently discovered patented fruit-derived growth enhancer for lactic acid bacteria (WO/2007/052081), a Consultant for PBL Technology Ltd, Norwich, and a mentor on the MBA degree at Loughborough University.

Published patents

WO 98/53047. E. coli, Salmonella or Hafnia autoinducers. Freestone, PPE, Williams, PH, Lyte, M, and Haigh, RD.  WO/2007/052081. Bacterial Growth Enhancer. Freestone, PPE, Haigh, RD and Lyte, M.

Publications

2012

Freestone P, Hirst R, Sandrini S, Sharaff F, Fry H, Hyman S, O'Callaghan C. Pseudomonas aeruginosa-Catecholamine Inotrope Interactions: A contributory factor in the development of ventilator associated pneumonia? Chest 2012;142(5):1200-10

2011

Sharaff F, Freestone P. Microbial Endocrinology. Central European Journal of Biology 2011;6(5):685-94

2010

Book: Lyte M and Freestone PPE (Editors). Microbial Endocrinology: inter-kingdom signaling in health and disease. Springer Publishers (April 2010).

Freestone P, Lyte M. Stress and microbial endocrinology: prospects for ruminant nutrition. Animal 2010;4(7):1248-57.

Pullinger GD, Carnell SC, Sharaff FF, van Diemen PM. Dziva F, Morgan E, Lyte M, Freestone PP, Stevens MP. Norepinephrine augments Salmonella enterica-induced enteritis in a manner associated with increased net replication but independent of the putative adrenergic sensor kinases QseC and QseE. Infect Immun 2010;78(1):372-80

Sandrini SM, Shergill R, Woodward J, Muralikuttan R, Haigh RD, Lyte M, Freestone PP. Elucidation of the mechanism by which catecholamine stress hormones liberate iron from the innate immune defense proteins transferrin and lactoferrin. J Bacteriol 2010;192(2):587-94

2009

Li W, Lyte M, Freestone PP, Agmal A, Colmer-Hamood JA, Hamood AN. FEMS Microbiol Lett 2009;Jul 27 [epub ahead of print]

Lyte M, Freestone PPE. Microbial Endocrinology becomes of age. ASM Microbe 2009

2003-2008

Freestone PP, Lyte M. Microbial endocrinology: experimental design issues in the study of interkingdom signalling in infectious disease.  Adv Appl Microbiol 2008;64:75-105

Freestone PPE, Haigh RD, Lyte M. Catecholamine inotrope resuscitation of antibiotic-damaged staphylococciand its blockade by specific receptor antagonists. J Infect Dis 2008;197(7):1044-52

Freestone PP, Sandrini SM, Haigh RD, Lyte M. Microbial endocrinology: how stress influences susceptibility to infection. Trends Microbiol 2008;16(2):55-64

Freestone PPE, Haigh RD, Lyte M. Specificity of catecholamine-induced growth in Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella enterica and Yersinia enterocolitica. FEMS Microbiol Lett 2007;269(2):221-8.

Freestone PPE, Haigh RD, Lyte M. Blockade of catecholamine-induced growth by adrenergic and dopaminergic receptor antagonists in Escherichia coli O157: H7, Salmonella enterica and Yersinia enterocolitica. BMC Microbiol 2007;7:8 (1-13).

Freestone PPE, Walton N, Haigh RH, Lyte M. Influence of dietary catechols on the growth of enteropathogenic bacteria. Int J Food Micro 2007;119(3):159-69.

El-Rachkidy R, Hales J, Freestone PPE, Young HS, Griffiths CEM, Camp R. Increased levels of IgG reactive with secreted Streptococcus pyogenes proteins in chronic plaque psoriasis. J Invest Dermatol 2007;127(6):1337-42

Roberts A, Matthews JB, Socransky SS, Freestone PPE, Williams PH, Chapple ILC. Stress and the periodontal diseases: growth responses of periodontal bacteria to Escherichia coli stress-associated autoinducer and exogenous Fe. Oral Microbiol Immunol 2005;20(3):147-53

Lyte M, Freestone PPE, Neal CP, Olson BA, Haigh RD, Baystone R, Williams PH. Stimulation of Staphylococcus epidermidis growth and biofilm formation by catecholamine inotropes. Lancet 2003;361(9352):130-5.

Clarke SC, Haigh RD, Freestone PP, Williams PH. Virulence of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli, a global pathogen. Clin Microbiol Rev 2003;16(3):365-78

Freestone PP, Haigh RD, Williams PH, Lyte M. Involvement of enterobactin in norepinephrine-mediated iron supply from transferrin to enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli. FEMS Microbiol Lett 2003;222(1):39-43

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Contact Details

Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation,
Maurice Shock Medical Sciences Building,
University Road,
Leicester, LE1 9HN, UK 

General enquiries to:
Alison Brown

T:+44 (0)116 252 2951
F:+44 (0)116 252 5030

Postgraduate enquiries to: 
Susan Kapadia (PhD)

Anna Boyce (MSc)

Erasmus and Study Abroad Co-ordinator:

Professor Peter Andrew

T: +44 (0)116 252 2951

Other contact details can be found in People

Head of Department: Professor Andy Wardlaw

Deputy Head of Department: Dr Shaun Heaphy

Respiratory Team Lead: Professor David Cousins

Microbial Sciences Team Lead: TBC

Renal team Lead: Dr Jon Barratt