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Microbiology Logo Microbiology & Immunology
Te Tari Moromoroiti me te Ārai Mate

Associate Professor Keith Ireton

Research interests:

Medical microbiology and microbial pathogenesis, cellular microbiology

Current research:

My laboratory studies molecular mechanisms of virulence of the food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. One ongoing project focuses on understanding the process by which Listeria induces its internalization into host human cells. Another project examines how Listeria spreads from infected human cells to surrounding healthy cells.

Lab group

Antonella GianfeliceRoman Mortuza

Postgraduate students

Gaurav Chandra GyanwaliAshkan Bayrami Virsagh

Arpita Roy (PhD student)

Thilina Herath (PhD student)

Serena Tijoriwalla (MSc student)


Highly motivated graduate students interested in PhD or MSc studies are encouraged to contact Keith Ireton (  For information on admissions and scholarships visit:



Research projects 

Project 1

Identification of human signaling proteins involved in internalization of Listeria monocytogenes

Project 2

Identification of human proteins involved in cell-cell spread of Listeria monocytogenes

Recent publications

Saila, S., Gyanwali, G.C., Husain, M., Gianfelice, A., and Ireton, K. 2019. The host GTPase Arf1 and its effectors AP1 and PICK1 stimulate actin polymerization and exocytosis to promote entry of Listeria monocytogenes. Infect. Immun. In Press.

Bhalla, M., Van Ngo, H., Gyanwali, B., and Ireton, K. 2018. The host scaffolding protein Filamin A and the exocyst complex control exocytosis during InlB-mediated entry of Listeria monocytogenes. Infect. Immun. Link to abstract.

Ireton, K. 2018. A helpful PEST for Listeriolysin O? Cell Host and Microbe. 23: 693-694. Link to article.

Ireton, K., Van Ngo, H., and Bhalla, M. 2018. Interaction of microbial pathogens with host exocytic pathways. Cellular Microbiology. e12835. Link to abstract.

Van Ngo, H., Bhalla, M., Chen, D.Y., and Ireton, K. 2017. A role for host exocytosis in InlB-mediated internalization of Listeria monocytogenes. Cell. Microbiol. 2017:e12768. Link to abstract.

Bhalla, M., Law, D., Dowd, G.C., and Ireton, K. 2017. Host serine/threonine kinases mTOR and PKC-alpha promote inlB-mediated entry of Listeria monocytogenes. Infect. Immun. Jun 20;85(7). pii: e00087-17. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00087-17. Link to article.

Ireton, K. 2016. Rickettsia evades a tense situation. Cell Host Microbe. 20: 549-550. Link to article.

Dowd, G.C., Bhalla, M., Kean, B., Thomas, R., and Ireton, K. 2016. Role of host type IA phosphoinositide 3-kinase pathway components in invasin-mediated internalization of Yersinia enterocolitica. 2016. Infect. Immun. 84: 1826-1841. Link to abstract.

Gianfelice, A., Le, P.H.B, Rigano, L.A., Saila, S., Dowd, G.C., McDivitt, T., Bhattacharya, H., Hong, W., Stagg, M., and Ireton, K. 2015. Host endoplasmic reticulum COPII proteins control cell-to-cell spread of the bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. Cell Microbiol. DOI: 10.1111/cmi.12409. Link to abstract.

Ireton, K., Rigano, L.A., and Dowd, G.C. Role of host GTPases in infection by Listeria monocytogenes. 2014.Cell. Microbiol. DOI: 10.1111/cmi.12324. EPub ahead of print. Link to abstract.

Ireton, K., Rigano, L.A., Polle, L., and Schubert, W.D. 2014. Molecular mechanism of protrusion formation during cell-to-cell spread of ListeriaFront. Cell. Infec. MicrobiolLink to abstract.

Rigano, L.A., Dowd, G.C., Wang, Y., and Ireton, K. 2014. Listeria monocytogenes antagonizes the human GTPase Cdc42 to promote bacterial spread. Cell. MicrobiolOnline early version accessed here.

Polle, L., Rigano, L.A., Julian, R., Ireton, K., and Schubert, W.D. 2014. Structural details of human Tuba recruitment by InlC of Listeria monocytogenes elucidate bacterial cell-cell spreading. Structure. 22: 304-314. Link to abstract.

Ireton, K. 2013. Molecular mechanisms of cell-cell spread of intracellular bacterial pathogens. Open Biology. 3: 130079. Link to abstract.

Leung, N., Gianfelice, A., Gray-Owen, S.D., and Ireton, K. 2013. Impact of the Listeria monocytogenes protein InlC on infection in  mice. Infect. Immun. 81: 1334-1240. Link to abstract.

Jiwani, S., Wang, Y., Dowd, G.C., Gianfelice, A., Pichestapong, P., Gavicherla, B., Vanbennekom, N., and Ireton, K. 2012. Identification of components of the host type IA PI 3-kinase pathway that promote internalization of Listeria monocytogenes. Infect. Immun. 80: 1252-1266. Link to abstract.

Ireton, K.  2010.  Anthrax toxins - roadblocks for exocytic trafficking.  Dev. Cell.  19:643-4. Link to abstract.

Gavicherla, B., Ritchey, L., Gianfelice, A., Kolokoltsov, A.A., Davey, R.A., and Ireton, K.  2010.  Critical role for the host GTPase activating protein ARAP2 in InIB-mediated entry of Listeria monocytogenes. Infect. Immun.  78:4532-41. Link to abstract.

Taylor, M., Navarro-Garcia, F., Huerta, J., Burress, H., Massey, S., Ireton, K., and Teter, K. 2010.  Hsp90 is required for transfer of the cholera toxin A1 subunit from the endoplasmic reticulum to the cytosol.  J. Biol. Chem. 285:31261-7. Link to abstract.

Rajabian, T., Gavicherla, B., Heisig, M., Muller-Altrock, S., Goebel, W., Gray-Owen, S.D., and Ireton, K.  2009.  The bacterial virulence factor InIC perturbs apical cell junctions and promotes cell-cell spread of Listeria.  2009.  Nat. Cell Biol. 11:1212-18. Link to abstract.

Goldoni, S., Humphries, A., Mystrom, A., Sattar, S., Owens, R.T., McQuillan, D.J., Ireton, K., and Iozzo, R.V.  2009.  Decorin is a novel antagonistic ligand of the Met receptor.  J. Cell Biol. 185:743-54. Link to abstract.

Gao, X., Lorinczi, M., Hill, K.S., Brooks, N.C., Dokainish, H., Ireton, K., and Elferink, L.A. 2009. Met receptor tyrosine kinase degradation is altered in response to the LRR fragment of the Listeriainvasion protein InlB. J. Biol. Chem. 278: 774-783. Link to abstract.

Selected older Publications 

Dokainish, H., Gavicherla, B., Shen, Y., and Ireton, K.  2007.  The carboxyl-terminal SH3 domain of the mammalian adaptor protein CrkII promotes internalization of Listeria monocytogenes through activation of host phosphoinositide 3-kinase. Cell. Microbiol. 9:2497-616. Link to abstract.

Ireton, K.  Entry of the bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes into mammalian cells.  2007.  Cell. Microbiol. 9 1365-75. Link to abstract.

Basar, T., Shen, Y., and Ireton, K. 2005. Redundant roles for Met docking site tyrosines and the Gab1 pleckstrin homology domain in InlB-mediated entry of Listeria monocytogenes. Infec. Immun. 73: 2061-2074. Link to abstract.

Sun, H., Shen, Y., Dokainish, H., Holgado-Madruga, M., Wong, A., and Ireton, K. 2005. Host adaptor proteins Gab1 and CrkII promote InlB-dependent entry of Listeria monocytogenes. Cell. Microbiol. 7: 443-457. Link to abstract.

Shen, Y., Naujokas, M., Park, M., and Ireton, K. 2000. InlB-dependent internalization of Listeria is mediated by the Met receptor tyrosine kinase. Cell. 103: 501-510. Link to abstract.

PubMed link to all publications

Downloadable publications available at Research Gate


Sources of funding 

Health Research Council, project grant 17/082

Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust

University of Otago Research Committee 

Positions available