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Signaling and Gene Regulation in Bacteria

Kroos, Lee R.
Michigan State University
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The objectives of our B. subtilis work are:

  1. Determine how SpoIVFB recognizes Pro-sK.
  2. Test the model that the CBS domain of SpoIVFB senses the ATP level and regulates access of Pro-sK to the active site.
  3. Determine how BofA and SpoIVFA inhibit SpoIVFB.
  4. Test whether RasP cleaves the cell division protein FtsL without a prior cleavage and identify a novel substrate(s) of RasP.

The objectives of our M. xanthus work are:

  1. Measure dynamical changes in the MFD network components and output before and during commitment of wild type and mutants, and use the data to build a mathematical model of the MFD network.
  2. Use the model to explore whether the network can operate as a switch that becomes irreversible and test this by measuring MFD network dynamics after addition of nutrients to developing cells.
  3. Use the model to explore if the MFD network can achieve an ultrasensitive response and test this by measuring MFD network response as a function of added C-signal or nutrients.
  4. Construct synthetically rewired MFD networks, measure their dynamical responses, and analyze the results using mathematical models of rewired networks.
More information
In nature, bacteria exist as members of communities in which cells respond to signals from each other and the environment. Understanding how bacteria integrate signals and respond appropriately by changing their gene expression, metabolism, motility, and morphology is a fundamental challenge of great practical significance. Manipulation of microbial communities to improve life and solve global problems will depend on knowledge of how bacteria interact with each other and their environment. Microbial communities impact global processes like cycling of elements between soil, water, and air, and primary productivity of the oceans; they impact ecosystems and all the organisms that inhabit them. Limited understanding of how microbes control complex behaviors in response to each other and their environment impedes our ability to harness them for pollution and climate control, and for increased bioenergy and food production. The work will help fill this crucial knowledge gap while contributing to the development of human resources in science by integrating teaching and interdisciplinary research training of undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs, including those in underrepresented groups. Our general approach is to use model bacteria with good genetic tools and relatively complex adaptive processes to discover novel signaling and gene regulatory mechanisms, and characterize them at the molecular level. We expect many of the mechanisms to be conserved in many bacteria, so our work will establish new paradigms that will be used to investigate bacteria that are experimentally more difficult to work with, but impact the quality of life in Michigan, the nation and the world in the knowledge areas of interest to AgBioResearch mentioned above. Our basic research on the mechanisms of signaling and gene regulation in bacteria is intended to provide new knowledge. Application of this knowledge to problems in agriculture, medicine, and industry will result in economic and health benefits to mankind, and environmental benefits to the world.
Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
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Food Defense and Integrity
Chemical Contaminants