Determining the role of temperature on vgrG promoter expression in Burkholderia cepacia

Abigail Genal Biology

Elizabeth Danka Assistant Professor of Biology


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Burkholderia cepacia is a bacterial species that causes infection in plants and animals. Recent work in our lab has focused on a specific strain of B. cepacia that has a mutated vgrG gene. This gene is part of a cluster of genes that are predicted to make up a complex structure called the Type 6 secretion system (T6SS). This system functions to inject toxins into other cells for competition or infection. It is hypothesized that the vgrG gene encodes a protein that is required for the function of this T6SS during infection. Previous bioinformatics work determined that there are 19 vgrG genes in the B. cepacia genome, and we hypothesize that some of these will be required for infection in our system. We plan to start by examining the expression of these vgrG genes to determine which genes may be involved in infection. We will do this by characterizing activity of the promoter sequences associated with the vgrG genes. We hypothesize that there is variability in when the vgrG genes are expressed and that the vgrG promoters are temperature-dependent. We are currently establishing a method to test the gene expression of each vgrG gene of interest at varying temperatures using colorimetric assays. The results will allow us to distinguish between the activity of the different promoters as well as the effects of temperature on vgrG promoter activity. Understanding the expression of the vrgG genes will demonstrate the effect of temperature on B. cepacia virulence.

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