Structural characterization of bacterial type III secretion system components

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is on the rise and poses increasing threats to susceptible individuals, including the elderly, children and immunocompromised patients. To develop new and effective therapeutics against these microbial enemies, a thorough understanding of their pathogenic (disease-causing) mechanisms is required. Calvin Yip’s research focuses on characterizing the structural components of the bacterial type III secretion system (TTSS). Found in many pathogenic bacteria-including Enteropathogenic E. coli and Salmonella strains-these secretion devices are essential to the bacteria’s ability to cause disease. These systems allow pathogenic bacteria to deliver effector molecules into human cells, where they disrupt normal cellular function. Calvin is investigating how the TTSS structures are assembled and how they deliver effector molecules into cells. In conjunction with other biophysical studies, this work will result in a deeper understanding of the assembly and function of TTSS and may provide the basis to design new drugs.