Tiago Pita

Class 2017
PhD GrantPD/BD/135137/2017Tiago Pita


PhD thesis

Deciphering Burkholderia cepacia complex virulome using the infection model Caenorhabditis elegans



• Jorge Leitão, Professor @ IST/ULisboa, PT


Proposal summary

Bacteria of the Burkholderia cepacia complex complex (Bcc) remain an important cause of morbidity and mortality among patients suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF). More recently, these bacteria emerged as important opportunistic pathogens among hospitalized non-CF patients suffering from various malignancies, including cancer. B. cenocepacia J2315 is a particularly epidemic strain, with the genome fully sequenced and annotated. Mechanisms underlying the regulation of virulence related traits in this bacterium have been focused on the role of protein regulators. However, recent evidence from other bacterial species highlighted the importance of non-coding RNAs as important players in finely tuning gene expression regulation at the post-transcriptional level. The present project aims to identify transcripts that are specifically expressed by B. cenocepacia J2315 when infecting the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as an infection model. These transcripts will be identified based on RNA-seq experiments. Results are expected to reveal both mRNAs and small non-coding RNAs playing important roles on virulence. It is foreseen that this project also contributes to unveil the biological function of selected sRNAs based on the use of both bioinformatics and experimental approaches.




Pita, T., Feliciano, J.R., Leitão, J.H., “Extracellular RNAs in Bacterial Infections: From Emerging Key Players on Host-Pathogen Interactions to Exploitable Biomarkers and Therapeutic Targets”. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21(24):9634, 2020:

Feliciano, J.R.; Seixas, A.M.M.; Pita, T.; Leitão, J.H.. “Comparative Genomics and Evolutionary Analysis of RNA-Binding Proteins of Burkholderia cenocepacia J2315 and Other Members of the B. cepacia Complex”. Genes, 11 2 (2020): 231. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/genes11020231.

Feliciano, J.R. , Seixas, A.M.M., Pita, T., Leitão, J.H., “Comparative Genomics and Evolutionary Analysis of RNA-binding Proteins of Burkholderia cenocepacia J2315 and other members of the B. cepacia Complex”, Genes 11, 231, 2020

Pita, T., Feliciano, J.R., Leitão, J.H., “Small Non-coding Regulatory RNAs from Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cepacia complex”, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 19(12): 3759, 2018.

Sousa, S.A., Feliciano, J.R. , PitaT., Guerreiro, S.I., Leitão, J.H., “Burkholderia cepacia complex virulence gene expression regulation: a review”, Genes 8, 43, 2017.

Sousa, S.A., Morad, M., Feliciano, J.R., Pita, T., Nady, S., El-Hennamy, R.E., Abdel- Rahman, M., Cavaco, J., Pereira,  L., Barreto, C., Leitão, J.H., “The Burkholderia cenocepacia OmpA-like protein BCAL2958: Identification, characterization, and detection of anti-BCAL2958 antibodies in serum from B. cepacia complex-infected Cystic Fibrosis patients”, AMB Express 6:41, 2016.

Oral Communications

Feliciano, J.R., Pita, T., Sousa, S.A., Leitão, J.H., “The RNA chaperones Hfq and Hfq2 of Burkholderia cepacia complex: Functional analysis and biological roles”, 21st International Burkholderia cepacia Working Group meeting, 2-5 May 2019, Dublin, Ireland


Poster Communications

Pita, T., Feliciano, J.R., Sousa, S.A., Leitão, J.H., “Characterization of small non coding RNAs differentially expressed by Burkholderia cenocepacia when infecting Caenorhabditis elegans”, MicroBiotec2019 December 5-7, 2019, Coimbra, Portugal

Feliciano, J.R., Michaux, C., Bischler,T., Pita, T., Barquist, L., Sousa, S.A., Seixas, A.A., Vogel, J., Leitão, J.H., The distinct in vivo RNA global profiles of the Hfq, Hfq2 and ProQ from Burkholderia cenocepacia K56-2”, 8th Congress of European Microbiologists (FEMS), 2019, Glasgow, Scotland

Pita T, Feliciano JR, Balugas B, Sousa, SA, Leitão JH, “Towards the identification of the virulence-associated sRNAs from the Burkholderia cepacia complex”, MicroBiotec2017 December 7-8, 2017, Porto, Portugal



Curricular units:

• General Doctoral Training (6 ECTS)

• Advanced Experimental Techniques and methodologies (6 ECTS)

• Bioentrepreneurship (6 ECTS)

• Outreach and Teaching Skills (6 ECTS)

• Functional and Comparative Genomics (6 ECTS)

• Molecular and Cellular Microbiology (6 ECTS)