Structural determination of bacterial type III secretion mechanisms

Overuse and improper use of common antibiotics have reduced their effectiveness because bacteria become resistant to the drugs. As result, there is a growing interest and need to discover new drug therapies to combat bacterial infections. A novel approach to fighting bacteria is to inhibit mechanisms that allow virulence factors to be secreted into host cells. Jason Gunawan is studying a specific secretion mechanism called the Type 111 Secretion System (TTSS), which is found in several bacteria including E.coli and salmonella strains. While there is a wealth of information about the structural components of bacterial TTSS, very little is known about how these components are assembled and how they deliver virulence factors into human cells. Jason’s research findings may contribute to the development of new antibiotics.