Honors & Awards
Ruth L Kirschstein National Research Service Award, National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (05/2018-04/2021)
Bachelor of Technology, Anna University, Biotechnology (2009)
Doctor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin Madison (2015)
A Gut Commensal-Produced Metabolite Mediates Colonization Resistance to Salmonella Infection.
Cell host & microbe
The intestinal microbiota provides colonization resistance against pathogens, limiting pathogen expansion and transmission. These microbiota-mediated mechanisms were previously identified by observing loss of colonization resistance after antibiotic treatment or dietary changes, which severely disrupt microbiota communities. We identify a microbiota-mediated mechanism of colonization resistance against Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) by comparing high-complexity commensal communities with different levels of colonization resistance. Using inbred mouse strains with different infection dynamics and S. Typhimurium intestinal burdens, we demonstrate that Bacteroides species mediate colonization resistance against S. Typhimurium by producing the short-chain fatty acid propionate. Propionate directly inhibits pathogen growth invitro by disrupting intracellular pH homeostasis, and chemically increasing intestinal propionate levels protects mice from S.Typhimurium. In addition, administering susceptible mice Bacteroides, but not a propionate-production mutant, confers resistance to S. Typhimurium. This work provides mechanistic understanding into the role of individualized microbial communities in host-to-host variability of pathogen transmission.
View details for PubMedID 30057174
Marine Mammal Microbiota Yields Novel Antibiotic with Potent Activity Against Clostridium difficile
ACS INFECTIOUS DISEASES
2018; 4 (1): 59–67
The recent explosion of research on the microbiota has highlighted the important interplay between commensal microorganisms and the health of their cognate hosts. Metabolites isolated from commensal bacteria have been demonstrated to possess a range of antimicrobial activities, and it is widely believed that some of these metabolites modulate host behavior, affecting predisposition to disease and pathogen invasion. Our access to the local marine mammal stranding network and previous successes in mining the fish microbiota poised us to test the hypothesis that the marine mammal microbiota is a novel source of commensal bacteria-produced bioactive metabolites. Examination of intestinal contents from five marine mammals led to the identification of a Micromonospora strain with potent and selective activity against a panel of Gram-positive pathogens and no discernible human cytotoxicity. Compound isolation afforded a new complex glycosylated polyketide, phocoenamicin, with potent activity against the intestinal pathogen Clostridium difficile, an organism challenging to treat in hospital settings. Use of our activity-profiling platform, BioMAP, clustered this metabolite with other known ionophore antibiotics. Fluorescence imaging and flow cytometry confirmed that phocoenamicin is capable of shifting membrane potential without damaging membrane integrity. Thus, exploration of gut microbiota in hosts from diverse environments can serve as a powerful strategy for the discovery of novel antibiotics against human pathogens.
View details for PubMedID 29043783
Mechanical Genomics Identifies Diverse Modulators of Bacterial Cell Stiffness.
2016; 2 (6): 402-411
Bacteria must maintain mechanical integrity to withstand the large osmotic pressure differential across the cell membrane and wall. Although maintaining mechanical integrity is critical for proper cellular function, a fact exploited by prominent cell-wall-targeting antibiotics, the proteins that contribute to cellular mechanics remain unidentified. Here, we describe a high-throughput optical method for quantifying cell stiffness and apply this technique to a genome-wide collection of ∼4,000 Escherichia coli mutants. We identify genes with roles in diverse functional processes spanning cell-wall synthesis, energy production, and DNA replication and repair that significantly change cell stiffness when deleted. We observe that proteins with biochemically redundant roles in cell-wall synthesis exhibit different stiffness defects when deleted. Correlating our data with chemical screens reveals that reducing membrane potential generally increases cell stiffness. In total, our work demonstrates that bacterial cell stiffness is a property of both the cell wall and broader cell physiology and lays the groundwork for future systematic studies of mechanoregulation.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cels.2016.05.006
View details for PubMedID 27321372