Dr. D.A.C. (Daphne) Stapels

Dr. D.A.C. (Daphne) Stapels


"How do bacteria influence our body when they don’t cause immediate life-threatening infections?"


A role for intracellular bacteria in Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?

The intestinal mucus layer of IBD patients is often thinner than average and cannot keep all intestinal bacteria at bay. I realised that this leads to bacterial invasion into intestinal epithelial cells without causing enteritis. In an NWO-XS project I am currently isolating the intracellular colonising bacteria to be able to unravel their contribution to intestinal epithelial inflammation and health.


Impact of bacteria-mucin interactions on intestinal health

Intestinal bacteria are prevented to directly contact the host epithelial cells by a double mucus layer. This consists of a less dense outer mucus layer and dense inner mucus layer. The membrane-anchored mucins such as MUC1, MUC3, MUC4, MUC13, and MUC17 are important components of the intestinal inner mucus layer. They consist of an extended extracellular domain that is heavily O-glycosylated which can keep bacteria at bay, or be used as nutrient source or adhesin for certain bacteria. Their intracellular tails contribute to cell signalling and can affect pathways important for epithelial maintenance such as integrin and growth factor signalling. The full range of bacterial effects on membrane-anchored mucins and their contribution to intestinal health is yet unknown.

Within the ERC project ‘Bacteria-mucin interactions’ headed by Dr Karin Strijbis, I am primarily focussing on the role of MUC13 in intestinal health, including its interaction with bacteria and its contribution to epithelial maintenance.


Green Team Veterinary Faculty

To make the world more sustainable, I feel we need the combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches. As part of the bottom-up approach, I am greatful to contribute my experience as a lab-based scientist to the Veterinary Green Team. 

I noticed that many scientists have plenty idease to improve the sustainability of wet-lab work, but lack the tools to make changes. I hope that, as member of the Green Team, I can connect people with similar goals and empower them to make the changes so that we can continue to do great science in a more sustainable manner. 



Bacteria influence intestinal health via interactions with membrane-anchored mucins