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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

East Tennessee Increases Understanding of Critical Pathogen

Mr. Sean Stacey, doctor of philosophy in biomedical sciences student, and Dr. Chris Pritchett, assistant professor in the department of health sciences of the ETSU College of Public Health, have authored an article in the Journal of Bacteriology. The article is titled Pseudomonas aeruginosa AlgU Contributes to Posttranscriptional Activity by Increasing rsmA Expression in a mucA22 Strain.

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[Dr. Chris Pritchett (left) and Mr. Sean Stacey]

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Pseudomonas is found in various environments and causes severe infections in immunocompromised individuals like those with HIV, cystic fibrosis, widespread burns and individuals undergoing chemotherapy. It causes both acute and chronic infections.

One of the regulatory factors that is known to modulate the virulence of P. aeruginosa in acute infections is RsmA.

A characteristic of some P. aeruginosa isolates that cause chronic infections — such as those found in cystic fibrosis patients — is a thick, mucous-like secretion called alginate. P. aeruginosa strains that initially colonize cystic fibrosis patients frequently evolve into strains that overproduce alginate. The data gathered during the study suggest that RsmA plays a role in chronic infections, such as those that occur in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients.

The researchers state, “We demonstrate, for the first time, that there is RsmA activity in mucoid P. aeruginosa strains. Our work suggests that RsmA may play a role during chronic infections as well as acute infections.” Dr. Pritchett recently received an RDC grant to continue his research with P. aeruginosa and RsmA.

The Journal of Bacteriology publishes research articles that probe fundamental processes in bacteria, archaea and viruses, the molecular mechanisms by which they interact with each other and with their hosts and environments. It is a publication of the American Society for Microbiology.