Research Project: Explorations in Bacterial Pathogenesis Prerequisite: Students should be proficient with sterile laboratory technique for microbiology and pipetting skills Description: Our laboratory studies two bacterial pathogens, Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of cholera and Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague. Regarding V. cholerae our laboratory studies two transcription factors, ToxR and TcpP, that regulate virulence gene transcription and environmental conditions that affect virulence gene expression levels. Our goal is to determine the nature of environmental sensing by V. cholerae as it induces virulence gene expression in hopes of interfering with that pathway with customized therapeutics. Our studies with Y. pestis focus on the ability of this organism to introduce toxic “Yop” proteins into targeted host cells. In addition to contributing to cell adhesion and Yop delivery, the Y. pestis surface protein Ail confers resistance to human serum, an activity required for virulence. Current work is focused on the mechanism of Ail - mediated serum - resistance with the goal of designing therapeutics interfering with this activity.