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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

East Tennessee Featured in the Journal of Bacteriology

Mr. Sean Stacey, a PhD student, Ms. Danielle Williams, Master of Science student in microbiology, and Dr. Chris Pritchett, associate professor in the department of health sciences of the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health, authored an article selected as an Article of Significant Interest by the editors of the Journal of Bacteriology.  Additionally, Sean Stacey’s photograph of transmission electron micrographs of nonmucoid (PAO1) and mucoid (mucA22) strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa was featured on the cover of the October 2017, volume 199, journal issue 19.

The article, The Pseudomonas aeruginosa Two-Component Regulator AlgR Directly Activates rsmA Expression in a Phosphorylation-Independent Manner, is the first to report RsmA activity in mucA mutant strains. Their work suggests that RsmA may play a role in both acute and chronic infections and that RsmA, or its regulators, may provide important targets for drug development.

In molecular biology and genetics, transcriptional regulation is defined as the means by which a cell regulates the conversion of DNA to RNA (transcription), thereby orchestrating gene activity.  AlgR and RsmA are both important regulators of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, influencing the ability of the pathogen to cause disease.  P. aeruginosa is an important pathogen of concern for people with severely impaired immune systems, causing both acute and chronic infections.  These infections are difficult to treat and frequently cause significant mortality in cystic fibrosis patients.

The researchers’ data suggest that AlgR is key for increasing RsmA levels in mucA mutant strains, such as those found in cystic fibrosis patients.  Further work is necessary to determine what roles RsmA plays during chronic infections.  The group intends to continue researching the RsmA regulon in mucA strains which may provide additional insight into how P. aeruginosa becomes such a successful cystic fibrosis pathogen and has implications for the important role of RsmA in all types of P. aeruginosa infections.

The Journal of Bacteriology publishes research articles that probe fundamental processes in bacteria, archaea and their viruses, and the molecular mechanisms by which they interact with each other and with their hosts and their environments. The selection of their article as an Article of Significant Interest by the editors indicates the importance of their findings and how their work sheds light on aspects of P. aeruginosa gene regulation that has implications for pathogenesis.