@ Penn State University
Working at the Intersection of Chemistry, Biology, and Bacteria
About the Weinert Lab
We are an interdisciplinary group focused on understanding signaling pathways that allow bacteria to sense and respond to their environment. We use tools from chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology to develop a molecular level understanding of the proteins and small molecules involved in these systems, as well as their role(s) in bacterial growth and virulence.
Atypical Cyclic Nucleotides
Nucleotides play a number of important roles as second messengers involved in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic signaling. Mounting evidence suggests that there may be additional nucleotide signaling pathways but very little is known about the proteins involved. Our work aims to identify new cyclic nucleotide-dependent pathways in bacteria, including the proteins and signals involved in sensing cNMPs and regulating cNMP levels. These studies provide basic insights into novel cellular signaling pathways and metabolism, as well as the phenotypes controlled by cNMPs.
Bacterial Oxygen Sensing
The ability of heme proteins to reversibly bind diatomic ligands allows organisms to sense changes in their environment. Recently, changes in gaseous ligand concentrations have been proposed to be involved in the pathogenesis of a variety of bacteria. Our work focuses on understanding how the globin coupled sensor protein family senses oxygen and transmits the binding signal into downstream events. Understanding how these diatomic signals are transduced will elucidate the role of heme sensors in bacterial signaling pathways and pathogenesis, as well as potentially yield starting points for the development of novel antibacterial agents.
Microbial Inter-Species Interactions
Bacteria are able to sense other organisms within their environment, such as other bacterial species or potential hosts, and adapt their own growth and behavior. While some of the signals that alert bacteria to the presence of other organisms have been identified, such as quorum sensing molecules, many of the signals are still unknown. In addition, the mechanisms by which the signal recognition is transmitted and how various sensing pathways (environmental, bacterial, and host) are interconnected are not well understood. Our work aims to understand these pathways in the context of microbial competition and pathogenesis.
Office: 306 Althouse Laboratory
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 865-3719
Lab Phone: (814) 865-2779
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The Weinert lab is part of the Eberly College of Science Rainbow Science Network!
For information about applying to graduate programs, please visit The Graduate School website.