Keith Mintz, Ph.D.

Associate Professor Emeritus


Training & Education

Dr. Mintz received his Ph.D. in 1990 from the University of Vermont studying Bone Biochemistry in the laboratory of Dr. Kenneth Mann. For postdoctoral research, he studied Bone Biochemistry with Dr. John Termine at the National Institutes of Dental Craniofacial Research in Bethesda, MD and Molecular Oral Microbiology with Dr. Paula Fives-Taylor at the University of Vermont, before joining the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in 2001.

Research Interests

Adhesion and colonization are critical events for bacterial infection. Our research focuses on identification and characterization of Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans proteins required for disease. A. actinomycetemcomitans is a Gram-negative bacterium associated with periodontal disease, an inflammatory condition of the mouth that results in tooth loss, and non-oral diseases e.g. infective endocarditis, which implicates the oral cavity as a reservoir for infectious agents. We identified and characterized a unique adhesin, extracellular matrix protein adhesin A (EmaA), a 202 kDa protein that trimerizes to form surface antenna-like structures. The structures are required for collagen adhesion and we posit that EmaA is associated with tissue tropism and colonization. EmaA mediates colonization of heart valves in an in vitro rabbit explant and in vivo rabbit endocarditis models. The collagen binding domain maps to the distal portion of the structure, which corresponds to the amino termini of the monomers. We have also identified a novel glycosylation mechanism for this adhesin. Recently, we have determined that EmaA is involved in biofilm formation using a mechanism that differs from collagen binding. Our studies will permit the dissection of the critical components involved in collagen adhesion and biofilm formation to provide new insights into the molecular mechanism of colonization.

Electron micrograph of whole mount, negatively stained bacterium displaying surface antennae-like EmaA structures (white arrows). Insert: EmaA structures.  Bacterial vesicles (small round objects) detached from the bacterial membrane are present.

Image: Electron micrograph of A. actinomycetemcomitans

Featured Publications

Mintz K.P. Identification of an extracellular matrix protein adhesin, EmaA, which mediates the adhesion of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans to collagen.   Microbiology. 2004; 150:2677-2688.  PMID:15289564

Tang G, Kitten T., Munro C, Wellman G. and Mintz K.P.  EmaA, a potential virulence determinant of Aggregatibacter (Actinobacillus) actinomycetemcomitans in infective endocarditis.  Infect. Immun. 2008; 76:2316-24.  PMID: 18347033

Yu C., Mintz K.P. and Ruiz T.   Investigation of the 3D architecture of the collagen   adhesin EmaA of Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans by electron tomography.   J. Bac. 2009; 191:6253-61 PMID: 19717611

Tang G., and Mintz K.P.  Glycosylation of the collagen adhesin EmaA of Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans is dependent upon the lipopolysaccharide biosynthetic pathway.  J. Bac. 2010;192:1395-404.  PMID: 20061477

Smith K.P., Ruiz T, Mintz K.P. Inner-membrane protein MorC is involved in fimbriae production and biofilm formation in Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans. Microbiology. 2016 162(3):513-25 PMID: 26796329

Keith Mintz, PhD headshot

Contact Information

Office: 322B Stafford

Phone: 802-656-0712


Lab Team

David Danforth: Senior Research Technician
Jake Tristano: Research Technician