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- Lab: 859-323-7858
- MN 458
B.S., Central Michigan University (Biology)
Ph.D., University of Michigan (Microbiology and Immunology)
Postdoc, University of North Carolina
The focus of my lab is to understand the molecular mechanisms that govern antagonistic and cooperative interactions between Burkholderia species in the context of infectious disease.
Contact-dependent growth inhibition (CDI) systems are protein toxin delivery systems only recently appreciated to be widespread among Gram-negative bacteria. CDI occurs when bacteria use the toxic C-terminus of a polymorphic surface-exposed protein to inhibit the growth of neighboring bacteria upon cell-cell contact. The protein toxin (called BcpA in Burkholderia species) is delivered to the cytoplasm of target cells where it functions as a nuclease. Autoinhibition is prevented by production of a small immunity protein (BcpI). Toxins are variable and immunity proteins specifically bind and inactivate only their cognate toxin.
We recently demonstrated that the CDI system proteins in the model organism Burkholderia thailandensis, BcpAIOB, also function in inter-bacterial signaling. Recipient bacteria producing the cognate immunity protein that are targeted by catalytically active (but not inactive) BcpA toxin undergo gene expression changes that includes upregulation of genes involved in biofilm formation and other community-associated traits. These data support a model in which production of CDI system proteins provides dual benefits for a bacterium, facilitating antagonism against 'non-self' organisms (growth inhibition) while mediating recognition and cooperation with bacteria producing the same BcpAIOB proteins (signaling).
Projects in the lab center on investigating the mechanism of contact-dependent signaling in B. thailandensis and examining the contribution of BcpAIOB proteins to the biology of pathogenic Burkholderia.
Garcia, E.C., Perault, A. I., Marlatt, S.A., and Cotter, P.A. 2016. Interbacterial signaling via Burkholderia contact-dependent growth inhibition system proteins. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 113(29):8296-301.
Anderson, M.S., Garcia, E.C., and Cotter, P.A. 2014. Kind discrimination and competitive exclusion mediated by contact-dependent growth inhibition systems shape biofilm community structure. PLoS Path. 10(4): e1004076. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004076.
Garcia, E.C., Anderson, M.S., Hagar, J.A., and Cotter, P.A. 2013. Burkholderia BcpA mediates biofilm formation independently of interbacterial contact-dependent growth inhibition. Mol. Micro. 89(6):1213-25.
Anderson, M.S., Garcia, E.C., and Cotter, P.A. 2012. The Burkholderia bcpAIOB genes define unique classes of Two-Partner secretion and contact dependent growth inhibition systems. PLoS Genet. 8(8): e10002877. doi:10.1371/journalpgen.1002877.