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Black Spot, Black Death, Black Pearl: The Tales of Bacterial Effectors

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My lab is interested in learning how cells function and transmit signals. It turns out that many novel mechanisms can be discovered by analyzing virulence factors or toxins used by pathogens during infections to manipulate “normal” cells. We have found that these virulence factors or toxins many times mimic or capture an activity used by host cells. They then use this activity in clever ways during infection. For example, AMPylation (covalently attaching AMP to an amino acid side chain of a protein) is an ancient mechanism that we are re-discovering by studying pathogens. While bacterial pathogens hijacked this activity to shut down signaling in an infected host cell, the eukaryotic host, such as Drosophila, uses this same activity to maintain neuronal plasticity during chronic stress. My lab uses many techniques including, biochemistry, microbiology, microscopy, yeast genetics, cell biology, proteomics, biophysics, etc, to uncover these ingenious molecular activities.

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