Yftah Tal-Gan: Communication mechanisms in bacteria

Title

Development of peptide probes to study communication mechanisms in bacteria

Mentor

Yftah Tal-Gan

Department

Chemistry

Biosketch

Since joining UNR I have been actively seeking to support and promote undergraduate research, resulting in numerous undergraduate students working in my lab over the years. Undergraduates in my group co-authored several publications, were awarded numerous research awards, including HURA, NURA, EPSCoR, and INBRE among others, and participated in scientific international conferences. Overall, I have worked with students from diverse backgrounds and career stages, as well as a variety of majors.

Project Overview

Quorum sensing (QS) is a ubiquitous process in bacteria that governs many important symbiotic and pathogenic phenotypes. As such, QS has attracted considerable attention as a means to control bacterial behaviors - attenuate undesired phenotypes, and promote productive processes. Many Gram-positive bacterial species utilize peptide pheromones to induce QS responses and initiate pathogenic phenotypes, such as competence, biofilm formation and virulence factor production. We investigate the molecular mechanisms that drive signal:receptor binding while interrogating the role of QS in the competition between bacterial species. To this end, we develop peptide-based QS modulators with distinct activity profiles (selective vs. pan-species modulators; inhibitors vs. activators) to test temporal control of QS modulation in both single-species and mixed cultures.

Students will be trained in peptide synthesis and characterization, as well as bacterial handling and biological screening.