Biological Sciences 2011
Area of Doctoral Study: Biological Sciences
Undergraduate Institute: University of Rochester
Research Advisor: Richard Wolf, Ph.D.
Current Position: Health Scientist Administrator/Program Offficer, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Description of Research
Gene regulation in Escherichia coli is studied in Dr. Richard Wolf’s lab. It is important to understand bacteria on a molecular level in order to understand it survives stress and toxic environments. We study SoxS and Rob, two proteins of the AraC/XylS family of transcriptional activators that regulate stress response and pathogenesis in Escherichia coli. We examine their mechanism of transcription activation of target genes. As part of my thesis research project I will focus my research on Rob protein. Rob has been shown to exist constitutively in intracellular aggregates within the cytoplasm, however the mechanism of aggregation is unknown. Bile salts, fatty acids, 2,2-dipyridal, and 4,4-dipyridal activate Rob-dependent transcription. We hypothesize that a sequestration factor may exist that maintains Rob in aggregates until necessary. When a cell is exposed to unfavorable conditions such as superoxide stress, heavy metals, bile salts, antibiotics, and organic solvents, Rob may be dispersed to aid in cell survival. Rob presents a new mechanism of induction in which E. coli maintains a constant level of Rob rather than synthesizing it de novo. Therefore, the long-term goal of this project is to identify and characterize a potential sequestration factor(s) that may be responsible for the aggregation and maintenance of Rob in Escherichia coli.