Valerie Huse, Ph.D.


Molecular Medicine 2013

Area of Doctoral Study: Molecular Medicine
Undergraduate Institution: James Madison University
Graduate Institution: Johns Hopkins University

Research Advisor: Patrik Bavoil, Ph.D.

Current Position: Review Microbiologist, Food and Drug Administration

Description of Research

Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted pathogen. The ability of chlamydiae to adhere to and be internalized by mucosal epithelial cells is the first step in chlamydial pathogenesis and has largely eluded researchers for decades. C. trachomatis encodes a polymorphic membrane protein (Pmp) gene family whose nine members are differentially expressed under in vitro growth conditions. The observed “phase-variation-like” phenotype of the autotransported Pmps is consistent with observed variable Pmp subtype-specific antibody profiles in patients infected with C. trachomatis. We have hypothesized that C. trachomatis Pmps, like their counterparts in Chlamydia pneumonia are responsible for the adherence of chlamydiae to epithelial cells and that the profile of expressed Pmps represents an adaptation to specific mucosal sites. I am interested in determining whether all six Pmp subtypes (A, B/C, D, E/F, G/I & H) have similar adhesin properties and if their variable expression profile represents a highly evolved adaptation mechanism.