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

Research Projects

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 improve our understanding of these pathways in the context of microbial competition and pathogenesis.

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