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Laura Runyen-Janecky’s Lab

Many bacteria, especially symbiotic bacteria, are exposed to a variety of environments during their lifecycles.  These environments may be both inside and outside the host, and particular signals in these environments may activate expression of genes that result in changes that allow the bacterium to cope more effectively with the specific environment.  One of the current aims of research in the R-J lab is to understand how bacteria survive in many distinct environments, including those encountered during the course of interaction with the host, by identifying and characterizing genes that are expressed in each environment.  Additionally, our lab has become increasing interested in focusing on a very specialized niche for bacterial life, that of the intracellular environment of a eukaryotic cell.  Thus, our primary research aim is to determine the physiological requirements for bacteria to live within eukaryotic cells and the bacterial gene regulation in this environment. We have done this by taking a molecular genetic approach using two facultative intracellular bacterial species. The first is Shigella flexneri, the causative agent of shigellosis, and the second is Sodalis glossinidius, a secondary symbiont of the tsetse fly. All current work in the lab involves Sodalis glossinidius. 

Current Projects

  • How does Sodalis glossinidius acquire iron? 
  • How does Sodalis glossinidius regulate iron acquisition genes?
  • What is the nature of the heat shock response in Sodalis glossinidius?

Current Lab Members

Patrick Somers  ‘17
Shaina D’Souza ‘18
Eric Jedel ‘19
Leah Cabo ‘19
Ruhan Farsin ‘19