Leonard Foster

Contact Information
416 – 2125 East Mall
University of British Columbia
Vancouver British Columbia V6T 1Z4 Canada
Tel: 1-604-822-8311
Fax: 1-604-822-2114
Email: foster@msl.ubc.ca
Lab Website: https://fosterlab.msl.ubc.ca/

Current Positions

  • Professor and Interim Head, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
  • Interim Co-Director, Life Sciences Institute.

Research Interests

Host-pathogen interactions:
Mammalian-bacterial, honey bee-bacteria, honey bee-mites, honey bee-viruses.

Our lab is focused on quantitative proteomics using stable isotope labeling and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to study biological systems. We cover a wide range of topics including pathogen invasion, infection, protein localization, and mapping protein interactions.

Mass spectrometry-based proteomics:
In order to understand how a complex system works it is extremely useful to know the identities of as many of the components of the system as possible. Commercially available mass spectrometers and database search tools have advanced to the point where experienced laboratories can routinely and reliably identify hundreds or thousands of proteins in exceedingly complex mixtures (i.e. an organelle preparation) using nanoflow high performance liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS-MS). Typically, complex protein samples are reduced to peptides by highly specific enzymatic digestion (e.g. trypsin cleavage carboxy-terminal of Arg or Lys). The peptides are then resolved by extremely high-resolution reversed-phase chromatography and eluted/ionized directly into a mass spectrometer (MS). The MS, operating in an information-dependent mode, selects and isolates any peptide ions observed and subjects them to tandem mass spectrometry. The observed mass/charge ratio of the peptide and its fragmentation pattern are then used to scan comprehensive protein sequence libraries (e.g. for a human liver sample the data would be searched against the Homo sapiens library) to find the best theoretical match and the peptides are compiled to arrive at a ‘protein hit list’.

In the past few years we have witnessed great advances in methodologies for applying mass spectrometry-based proteomics to answer biologically relevant questions. Some of the most powerful of these methods involve the use of stable isotopes to incorporate a quantitative dimension into the experiment. Thus far, however, quantitative proteomics has yet to be widely applied in mainstream biology. Our group is interested in a multidisciplinary approach to relevant cell biological problems. We develop and apply quantitative proteomic methods to questions involving organelles and how the composition of these compartments change when antagonized. Additionally, we are involved in several projects involving host-pathogen interactions. The knowledge gained from proteomic experiments is then used to direct more in-depth biochemical, bioinformatic and cell biological analysis of the system in order to validate the proteomic results. We have an LTQ-OrbitrapXL and an LTQ-FT from ThermoFisher and an 6520 QTOF and 6430 QQQ from Agilent Technologies. In addition, we have our own 96-well peptide synthesizer for making synthetic standards and a variety of up-stream fractionation methods for enriching specific types of proteins or reducing sample complexity prior to LC-MS/MS.

Current Projects

  • Mapping signaling pathways downstream of and disrupted by Salmonella invasion.
  • Finding host targets of effector proteins secreted from pathogenic bacteria.
  • Exploring how membrane domains (phagosomes, lipid rafts) change during Salmonella invasion.
  • Mapping protein interaction networks using novel, more efficient methods.
  • Identifying biomarkers of disease resistance in honey bees.
  • Identifying the components of royal jelly required for queen differentiation in honey bees.

Selected Publications

  1. Ge Y, Kang Y, Cassidy RM, MOON KY, Lewis R, Wong WOL, Foster LJ, Craig AM. (2018). Clptm1 Limits Forward Trafficking of GABAA Receptors to Scale Inhibitory Synaptic Strength. Neuron. 97(3): 596-610.
  2. Iovinella I, MCAFEE A, Mastrobuoni G, Kempa S, Foster LJ, Pelosi P, Dani F. (2018). Proteomic analysis of chemosensory organs in the honey bee parasite Varroa destructor: a comprehensive examination of the potential carriers for semiochemicals. Journal of Proteome Research. 161: 131-141.
  3. MCAFEE A, CHAPMAN A, Iovinella I, GALLAGHER-KURTZKE Y, COLLINS TF, HIGO H, Madilao LL, Pelosi P, Foster LJ. (2018). A death pheromone, oleic acid, triggers hygienic behavior in honey bees (Apis mellifera L.). Scientific Reports. 8(1): 5719.
  4. SKINNIDER MA, STACEY RG, Foster LJ. (2018). Genomic data integration systematically biases interactome mapping. BMC Bioinformatics. n/a: n/a. Accepted.
  5. Squair JW, Kwon BK, Krassioukov AV, West CR, Foster LJ, SKINNIDER MA. (2018). Integrated systems analysis reveals conserved gene networks underlying response to spinal cord injury. eLife. n/a(n/a): n/a. Accepted.
  6. GUARNA, M.M., S.E. HOOVER, E. Huxter, H. HIGO, K.M. MOON, D. Domanski, M.E.F. BIXBY, A.P. Melathopoulos, A. Ibrahim, M. Peirson, S. Desai, D. Micholson, R. White, C.H. Borchers, R.W. Currie, S.F. Pernal and L.J. Foster. (2017). Expression biomarkers used for the selective breeding of complex polygenic traits. Scientific Reports. 7(1): 8381.
  7. TRAPP J, MCAFEE A, Foster LJ. (2017). Genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics: Enabling insights into social evolution and disease challenges for managed and wild bees. Molecular Ecology. 26(3): 718-39.
  8. Hippmann, A.A., N. Schuback, K.M. MOON, J.P. McCrow, A.E. Allen, L.J. Foster, B.R. Green and M.T. Maldonado. (2017). Contrasting Effects of Acclimated Copper Limitation on the Photosynthetic Apparatus in Two Strains of the Open Ocean Diatom Thalassiosira oceanica. PLoS One. 12(8): e0181753.
  9. Gibbs MR, MOON KM, Chen M, Balakrishnan R, Foster LJ, Fredrick K. (2017). LepA (EF4) functions in biogenesis of the 30S subunit of the ribosome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A.114(5): 980-85.
  10. STACEY G, SKINNIDER M, SCOTT NE, Foster LJ. (2017). A rapid and accurate approach for prediction of interactomes from co-elution data (PrInCE). BMC Bioinformatics. 18(1): 457.
  11. Streijger, F., M. SKINNIDER, J. ROGALSKI, R. Balshaw, C. Shannon, A. PURDOVA, L. Belanger, L. Ritchie, A. Tsang, S. Christie, S. Parent, J.M. Thiong, C. Bailey, T. Ailon, S. Paquette, M. Boyd, J. Street, C.G. Fisher, M.F. Dvorak, C. Borchers, L.J. Foster and B.K. Kwon. (2017). A Targeted Proteomics Analysis of Human Cerebrospinal Fluid after Acute Spinal Cord Injury. Journal of Neurotrauma. 10(1089): 2054-68.
  12. McCoy, J.M., R.J. Stewart, A.D. Uboldi, J. Schröder, N.E. SCOTT, S. Lourido, A.T. Papenfuss, L.J. Foster and C.J. Tonkin. (2017). A Forward-genetic Screen Identifies a Negative Regulator of Rapid Ca2+- dependent Cell Egress in the Intracellular Parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 292(18): 7662-7674.
  13. Colineau L, Clos J, Foster LJ, Reiner N. (2017). Leishmania donovani chaperonin 10 regulates parasite internalization and intracellular survival in human macrophages. Medical Microbiology & Immunology. 206(3): 235-7.
  14. Malty RH, Aoki H, Kumar A, Phanse S, Amin S, Zhang Q, Minic M, Goebels F, Musso G, Wu Z, Abou- Tok H, Meyer M, Deineko V, Kassir S, Sidhu V, Jessulat M, SCOTT NE, Xiong X, Vlasblom J, Prasad B, Foster LJ, Alberio T, Garavaglia B, Yu H, Bader GD, Nakamura K, Parkinson J, Babu M. (2017). A Map of Human Mitochondrial Protein Interactions Linked to Neurodegeneration Reveals New Mechanisms of Redox Homeostasis and NF-κB Signaling. Cell Systems. 5(6): 564-77.
  15. MCAFEE, A., T. COLLINS and L.J. Foster. (2017). Odorant cues linked to social immunity induce lateralized antenna stimulation in honey bees (Apis melliferaL.). Scientific Reports. 7: 46171.
  16. Karunakaran KP, Yu H, Jiang X, CHAN QWT, Goldberg MF, Jenkins MK, Foster LJ, Brunham RC. (2017). Identification of MHC-bound peptides from dendritic cells infected with Salmonella enterica strain SL1344: implications for a non-typhoidal Salmonellavaccine. Journal of Proteome Research 16(1): 298-306.
  17. Meng F, Saxena S, Joshi B, SHANKAR J, Foster LJ, Bernatchez P, Nabi IR. (2017). The phospho- caveolin-1 scaffolding domain dampens force fluctuations in focal adhesions and promotes cancer cell migration. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 28(16): 2190-201.
  18. MCAFEE A, CHAN QWT, Evans J, Foster LJ. (2017). A Varroa destructor protein atlas reveals molecular underpinnings of developmental transitions and sexual differentiation. Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. 16(12): 2125-37.
  19. SCOTT NE, ROGERS LD, PRUDOVA A, BROWN NF, Fortelny N, Overall CM, Foster LJ. (2017). Interactome disassembly during apoptosis occurs independent of caspase cleavage. Molecular Systems Biology. 13(1): 906.
  20. BIXBY, M., K. Baylis, S. HOOVER, R. Currie, A. Melathopoulos, S. Pernal, L.J. Foster and M.M. GUARNA. (2017). A bio-economic model of Canadian honey bee colonies: marker-assisted selection (MAS) in queen breeding affects colony profits. Journal of Economic Entomology. 110(3): 816-825.
  21. Templeman, N.M., F. Stephane, J. CHIK, S. Sinha, G.E. Lim, L.J. Foster, C. Nislow and J.D. Johnson. (2017). Reduced circulating insulin enhances insulin sensitivity in old mice andextends lifespan. Cell Reports. n/a: n/a. In Press.
  22. Crowe, A.M., I. Casabon, K.L. Brown, J. Liu, J. Lian, J.C. ROGALSKI, T.E. Hurst, V. Snieckus, L.J. Foster and L.D. Eltis. (2017). Catabolism of the last two cholesterol rings in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and other steroid-degrading bacteria. MBio. 8(2): e00321-17.
  23. LUND HL, Hughesman CB, McNeil K, Clemens S, Hocken K, Pettersson R, Karsan A, Foster LJ, Haynes C. (2016). Initial diagnosis of chronic myelogenous leukemia based on quantification of M-BCR status using droplet digital PCR. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry. 408(4): 1079-94.
  24. Nosak C, Silva PN, Sollazzo P, MOON KM, Odisho T, Foster LJ, Rocheleau JV, Volchuk A. (2016). Jagn1 Is Induced in Response to ER Stress and Regulates Proinsulin Biosynthesis. PLoS One. 11(2): e0149177.
  25. Weber BS, Hennon SW, Wright MS, SCOTT NE, de Berardinis V, Ayala JA, Adams MD, Foster LJ, Feldman MF. (2016). Genetic dissection of the type VI secretion system in Acinetobacter and identification of a novel peptidoglycan hydrolase TagX required for its biogenesis. mBio. 7(5): e01253-16.
  26. Vashchenko G, Das S, MOON KM, ROGALSKI JC, Taves MD, Soma KK, Van Petegem F, Foster LJ, Hammond GL. (2016). Identification of Avian Corticosteroid-binding Globulin (SerpinA6) Reveals the Molecular Basis of Evolutionary Adaptations in SerpinA6 Structure and Function as a Steroid-binding Protein. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 291(21): 11300-12.
  27. van der Heijden J, Reynolds LA, Deng W, Mills A, Scholz R, IMAMI K, Foster LJ, Duong F, Finlay BB. (2016). SalmonellaRapidly Regulates Membrane Permeability To Survive Oxidative Stress. mBio. 7(4): e01238-16.
  28. Tysoe C, Williams LK, Keyzers R, Nguyen NT, Tarling C, Wicki J, Goddard-Borger ED, Aguda AH, PERRY S, Foster LJ, Andersen RJ, Brayer GD, Withers SG. (2016). Potent Human α-Amylase Inhibition by the β-Defensin-like Protein Helianthamide. ACS Central Science. 2(3): 154-161.
  29. Szabat M, Page MM, Panzhinskiy E, Skovsø S, Mojibian M, Fernandez-Tajes J, Bruin JE, Bround MJ, Lee JT, Xu EE, Taghizadeh F, O’Dwyer S, van de Bunt M, MOON KM, Sinha S, Han J, Fan Y, Lynn FC, Trucco M, Borchers CH, Foster LJ, Nislow C, Kieffer TJ, Johnson JD. (2016). Reduced Insulin Production Relieves Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Induces β Cell Proliferation. Cell Metabolism. 23(1): 179-93.
  30. Nosak C, Silva PN, Sollazzo P, MOON KM, Odisho T, Foster LJ, Rocheleau JV, Volchuk A. (2016). Jagn1 Is Induced in Response to ER Stress and Regulates Proinsulin Biosynthesis. PLoS One. 11(2): e0149177. Published.


  • Postdoctoral (Proteomics), University of Southern Denmark, Denmark, 2004.
  • Ph.D. (Biochemistry), University of Toronto, Canada, 2001.
  • B.Sc. (Biochemistry), Simon Fraser University, Canada, 1996.