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The Hadjifrangiskou Lab (or in short, the H-Lab) is a diverse group of scientists fascinated with how bacteria make sense of  their surroundings. We leverage our efforts to   pick apart how bacteria do  the equivalent of “thinking”  by using small sensory devices called two-component systems. We  want to  understand how two-component systems work, because they allow pathogens to effectively avoid threats while trying to colonize the human host. We want to understand how two-component systems work because they are absent in humans and present in bacteria that cause disease and therefore make great targets for drug discovery. We focus our attention on bacteria that  cause urinary tract infections and specifically on uropathogenic E. coli, which accounts for the majority of community- and hospital-acquired UTIs worldwide.

For those Vanderbilt 2020IGP/QCB students interested in our group for a rotation, the following rotation projects are available:

(1) Characterization of a library of signal transduction mutants. This project will encompass learning numerous in vitro techniques, while testing the behavior of a library UPEC mutants each lacking a two-component system. We want to evaluate how each TCS alters biofilm behavior, interaction with host epithelial surfaces, bacteria-bacteria interactions, adherence and invasion.

(2) Defining the effect of GABA production in LPS modification and resistance to polymyxin B. We have discovered that the QseB transcription factor controls a metabolic circuit critical for UPEC’s ability to modify its cell envelope and mount antibiotic resistance. This project will focus on  deleting key metabolism genes and evaluating the effects of each deletion on cell envelope modification and antibiotic resistance.

(3) Determine the role of outer membrane proteins in mediating antibiotic susceptibility in UPEC mutants with un-structured biofilms. We have discovered that a respiratory oxidase, cytochrome Bd, is crucial for biofilm formation in UPEC. We identified that in its absence, several outer membrane porins are unregulated, which could be permissive to antibiotics and could account for the heightened susceptibility of cytochrome bd mutants  to  antibiotics. This project  would involve mutagenesis of the OMPS in UPEC and determination of the effects of each mutation to biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance.

As a team we stand up for justice and equality. Please take a look at the links below. We take a look at them regularly!

American Society for Microbiology Resources: ASM Anti-Racism Resources

#ShutDownSTEM Resource Website: ShutdownSTEM resources

Smithsonian: Talking about Race – from the Smithsonian

Additional Anti-Racism resources: Additional Resources for parents and educators

Diverse Teams are the Most Creative.

If you are creative and want to join our lab, email Dr. H. at: maria.hadjifrangiskou@vanderbilt.edu or at maria.hadjifrangiskou@vumc.org

Follow Dr. H on Twitter:

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