Program: Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis
Current advisor: Scott J. Hultgren, PhD
Undergraduate university: University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Urinary tract infections represent a common disease in the United States. These infections can be caused by a number of bacteria, including both Gram-negative and Gram-positive organisms. Among Gram-negative pathogens, chaperone usher pathway (CUP) pili tipped with two-domain adhesin proteins are major virulence factors. The tip adhesin protein commonly mediates the binding tropism of CUP pilus. My work looks to study the structural biology of these CUP adhesins and their associated pilus rods in order to appreciate how these structures mediate adhesin virulence and colonization factor function in host-microbe interactions. In particular, while the #120587; (P pilus) and #120574;1 (Type 1 pilus) pilus groupings have revealed a great deal about the structure and function of CUP pili, the structure-function determinants of pili within the #120574; 4 grouping, which contains clinically-relevant pili across a number of different Gram negative organisms, is less well understood in the context of human colonization and infection.