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MEMBERSHIP  ::  Meet the Microbiologist

Meet the Microbiologist

Gene transfer agents (GTAs): Virus-like particles moving bacterial genes

Gene transfer between cells plays an important role in the evolution of bacterial genomes. It is believed that horizontal gene transfer (HGT), also known as lateral gene transfer, is the main reason behind genetic variation and the acquisition of new, adaptive traits across bacterial strains. In that context, a purple non-sulphur photosynthetic α-proteobacterium bacterium, Rhodobacter capsulatus, performs an unusual mode of genetic exchange. It produces a bacteriophage-like particle called a gene transfer agent (GTA) that can transfer fragments of a donor cell’s genome to recipient cells in a process similar to transduction. In Dr. Lang’s lab, my research work is mainly focussed on understanding the mechanisms regulating RcGTA production. Expression of the RcGTA gene cluster is regulated by several signalling systems, but only the loss of a key response regulator, CtrA, showed complete loss of RcGTA production. Loss of CtrA also affected transcription of several genes encoding putative bis-(3’-5’)-cyclic dimeric guanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP) cycling proteins. C-di-GMP acts as a universal secondary messenger in bacteria and affects diverse cellular processes in different species. The mechanisms involving the synthesis and degradation of c-di-GMP are relatively well understood. However, the direct targets of c-di-GMP binding and effector responses have yet to be clarified. Because loss of CtrA results in no RcGTA production and affects putative c-di-GMP signaling proteins, I am investigating if these putative c-di-GMP cycling proteins and the cellular levels of c-di-GMP affect RcGTA production using different molecular genetic, biochemical and transcriptomic approaches. My studies will help in enhancing our basic knowledge on the complex signalling system that controls RcGTA production and also provides information about c-di-GMP signaling and its regulation in R. capsulatus

Purvikalyan Pallegar

Member Profile

Contact Information
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Elzabeth ave
St johns,  A1B 3X9

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