The Sorek Lab

Microbial Immunology


Our lab of microbial genomics and systems biology studies the immune system of bacteria

We are interested in deciphering the molecular mechanisms providing bacteria with protection against viruses that infect them (phages). We developed computational and experimental platforms to discover new bacterial immune systems in large scales. Our studies demonstrated that many important components of the human innate immune system evolved from bacterial immune systems, explaining the early evolution of the human innate immune system. 

We also discovered that viruses can use small-molecule communication in order to coordinate their infection dynamics - our lab studies the molecular mechanisms allowing virus-virus communication.

Our research combines computational genomics, AI-based computational structural biology, metagenomics, metabolomics, biochemistry, and modern experimental approaches in microbiology and virology.

Research page

Selected Publications

Phages overcome bacterial immunity via diverse anti-defence proteins

Yirmiya E., Leavitt A., Lu A., Ragucci A. E., Avraham C., Osterman I., Garb J., Antine S. P., Mooney S. E., Hobbs S. J., Kranzusch P. J., Amitai G. & Sorek R. Nature, 625:352-359 (2024).

A conserved family of immune effectors cleaves cellular ATP upon viral infection

Rousset F., Yirmiya E., Nesher S., Brandis A., Mehlman T., Itkin M., Malitsky S., Millman A., Melamed S. & Sorek R. Cell, 186:3619-3631.e13 (2023).

Viruses inhibit TIR gcADPR signalling to overcome bacterial defence

Leavitt A., Yirmiya E., Amitai G., Lu A., Garb J., Herbst E., Morehouse B. R., Hobbs S. J., Antine S. P., Sun Z. J., Kranzusch P. J. & Sorek R. Nature , 611(7935):326-331 (2022)

Antiviral activity of bacterial TIR domains via immune signalling molecules

Ofir G., Herbst E., Baroz M., Cohen D., Millman A., Doron S., Tal N., Malheiro D. B. A., Malitsky S., Amitai G. & Sorek R. Nature, 600(7887):116-120 (2021)

Prokaryotic viperins produce diverse antiviral molecules

Bernheim A., Millman Dayan A. J., Ofir G., Meitav G., Avraham C., Shomar H., Rosenberg M. M., Tal N., Melamed S., Amitai G. & Sorek R. Nature, 589(7840):120-124 (2021) 

Bacterial Retrons Function In Anti-Phage Defense

Millman A., Bernheim A., Stokar-Avihail A., Fedorenko T., Voichek M., Leavitt A., Oppenheimer-Shaanan Y. & Sorek R. Cell, 183(6):551-1561 (2020)

Cyclic GMP-AMP signalling protects bacteria against viral infection

Cohen D., Melamed S., Millman A., Shulman G., Oppenheimer-Shaanan Y., Kacen A., Doron S., Amitai G. & Sorek R. Nature, 574(7780):691-695  (2019)

Systematic discovery of antiphage defense systems in the microbial pangenome

Doron S., Melamed S., Ofir G., Leavitt A., Lopatina A., Keren M., Amitai G. & Sorek R. Science, 359(6379):eaar4120 (2018)

Communication between viruses guides lysis-lysogeny decisions

Erez Z., Steinberger-Levy I., Shamir M., Doron S., Stokar Avihail A. A., Peleg Y., Melamed S., Leavitt A., Savidor A., Albeck S., Amitai G. & Sorek R. Nature, 541(7638):488-493 (2017)

All Publications