Department of Microbiology
College of Natural Sciences
My group uses techniques from microbiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology to study molecular pathogenesis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of TB, with special emphasis on regulation of ribosomes during the infection. M. tuberculosis, and many other bacteria, form “alternative” ribosome when zinc is limited. Therefore, bacteria may use changes in zinc availability as a signal to adjust their physiology to specific environments. In particular, morphogenic programs, including cell wall remodeling triggered by zinc depletion may allow bacteria to survive stresses imposed by their host or shifting environments, as seen in pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria, respectively.
While my work is mainly focused on pathogenesis, I collaborate with Dr. Rosie Alegado to study environmental mycobacteria. Our collaborative work will provide better understanding of the role of specialized ribosomes in bacteria.
IMPACT TO HAWAII
TB disproportionally affects Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, compared to other ethnic groups in the US. New therapies are needed for eradicating TB.
Colony morphology of Mycobacterium smegmatis depends on zinc availability and presence of alternative ribosomes.