Area of Doctoral Study: Chemistry
Undergraduate Institute: Gettysburg College
Research Advisor: Aaron Smith, Ph.D.
Description of Research
I am working on a novel two-component signal transduction system, BqsS-BqsR, which has been seen to regulate biofilm formation/decay in Pseudomonas aeruginosa through extracellular ferrous iron binding. The deletion of either protein gene in Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Pa)results in a significant increase in biofilm formation. However, neither of these proteins have been structurally characterized, and the molecular-level details of how and to what extent either (or both) proteins interact with Fe2+ remains unknown. In my research, I am exploring the structural characterization, the protein structure, and the metal-binding capabilities of this two component system. I am also working on determining critical residues required for metal acquisition, and once I have determined the critical residues for metal binding and signal transduction, I will make mutations in Pa in order to determine the phenotypes of these mutations, especially the ability of this pathogen to form and/or to dissociate biofilms. With sufficient structural information, I will also test a suite of potential compounds that would be designed to target this specific two-component system, in order to aid in the attenuation of Pa virulence.