Our studies focus on the genetics and regulation of iron acquisition systems and other virulence factors of the intestinal pathogens Shigella flexneri and Vibrio cholerae. Our work combines biochemistry and genetics to determine how the essential metals iron and manganese are transported and utilized in V. cholerae and S. flexneri. Iron transport systems are of particular interest to us because iron acquisition in the human host is critical to microbial virulence. Specifically we are studying the bacterial Feo system for ferrous iron transport. Additionally, we use in vitro models combined, such as enteroids, with genetic analyses to determine the role of host lipids and carbon metabolism in the pathogenesis of S. flexneri. Regarding S. flexneri, we also examine interspecies interactions between S. flexneri and normal members of human gut microbiota to determine how they influence in S. flexneri growth and virulence. Finally, we are also exploring the environmental regulation of critical virulence factors by the RNA binding protein CsrA in V. cholerae.
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