Research publication
Visiting Asst. Prof of Biology Nora Sullivan
Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology Nora Sullivan coauthored a recent paper published in mBio. This research addresses the mechanisms behind the ability of the bacterium Proteus mirabilis to distinguish self (an identical clonal strain) from non-self (a non-identical strain of the same species). Using a high-throughput genetic screen, the researchers identified gene clusters involved accurate identity recognition. Two gene clusters encode the identity factors, the sequences of which differ between strains of the same species. The third encodes the transport machinery and is required for the identity factors to be exported to the cell surface. This surface-expressed system provides a mechanism by which bacterial cells can identify their neighbors and change their behavior accordingly. This work provides insights on a molecular level to the phenomenon of territorial behavior using a simple bacterial system. This study was performed in the laboratory of Harvard Professor Karine Gibbs by former undergraduate Larissa Wenren, graduate student Alecia Septer, postdoc Lia Cardarelli and Keck Science Professor Nora Sullivan.  


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