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2018 Project Proposal

Characterization of Enzymes from Gut Microbe Bacteroides ovatus*

Krystle McLaughlin (Chemistry)

Microbiome dysbiosis, the imbalance of microbial populations in the body, has been implicated in many areas of human health including autoimmune diseases. Gut microbiota populations in healthy individuals show marked differences compared with populations in individuals with autoimmune diseases. An overabundance of gut microbe Bacteroides ovatus has been observed in the autoimmune disorders systemic lupus erythematosus, Crohn’s disease, type I diabetes, and celiac disease. We are using biochemical and biophysical techniques to characterize proteins from B. ovatus hypothesized to play a part in provoking a human autoimmune response or on strain survival. Of interest are specialized carbohydrate esterases and hydrolases, which can contribute to damaging the lining of the gut, evoking an immune response, and may be crucial to the survival of B. ovatus. This research will provide further understanding of B. ovatus at the molecular level, and provide the basis for further work on its role in autoimmune disease. Students will perform protein purification, in vitro enzyme assays, protein crystallization, and create mutant protein constructs for study.        

Prerequisites:  Completed before the start of URSI: CHEM108/109 or 125 (required); BIOL 106 preferred.  

How should students express their interest in this project?  Students will be selected based on their URSI application and an in person interview. Candidates will be contacted to be interviewed. Students should indicate on their application why they are interested in the project.