Dr. Joen Luirink

Amsterdam is my city, a great place to live, work and interact with inspiring colleagues and students. I am driven by a broad interest in Microbiology, but protein trafficking is particularly interesting because of its mechanistic complexity and untapped potential for the development of antimicrobials, both antibiotics and vaccines.

I am responsible for mixing the cocktails at lab parties.

The research of Joen Luirink’s research group is concentrated on mechanisms and applications of protein trafficking pathways in bacteria.

After his PhD research on the molecular details of bacteriocin secretion he became PI at the VU University Amsterdam and focused on application of the basic knowledge obtained to optimize heterologous protein secretion by E. coli. He also worked as a visiting scientist at the EMBL in Heidelberg where he started the characterization of a novel co-translational pathway for targeting of membrane proteins in bacteria, a topic that was continued upon return to Amsterdam.

This pathway partly overlaps with the type V secretion system that is used to secrete virulence factors across the cell envelope of pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria. Based on basic research this system was modified into a platform for surface display of heterologous antigens for the development of live vaccines and derived Outer Membrane Vesicles (OMVs). The exploitation of this vaccine platform is done in the context of the spin-off company Abera Bioscience of which Joen Luirink is CSO.

Current research in the academic group is also focused on the role of the Bam complex in biogenesis of outer membrane proteins and type V secretion. Stress-based high-throughput phenotypic assays have been developed that report on inhibition of Bam activity and cell envelope disruption in general. These assays are now successfully used to screen large chemical compound libraries for inhibitors of Bam functioning and as an indicator of cell envelope integrity.





  • Steenhuis, C.M. Ten Hagen-Jongman, P. van Ulsen, J. Luirink (2020). Stress-Based High-Throughput Screening Assays to Identify Inhibitors of Cell Envelope Biogenesis. Antibiotics (Basel), 9(11):808, doi: 10.3390/antibiotics9110808.PMID: 33202774.