Detection of Intracellular Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Summer 2016

Sarah Alsamman : Molecular and Cell Biology

Mentor: Suzanne M.J. Fleiszig

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that most commonly causes infection in immunocompromised individuals or compromised epithelial surfaces such as the cornea. This infectious agent is the leading cause of contact lens-associated microbial keratitis, which sometimes results in vision loss or blindness. I am interested in the mechanisms through which P. aeruginosa causes infection.

P. aeruginosa is considered an extracellular pathogen known to utilize a type-III secretion system, a needle-like macromolecular structure implemented by the bacteria to inject toxins into the cytoplasm of a target cell without ever entering the cell. However, it has been shown by the Fleiszig lab and a few other researchers that P. aeruginosa does not always use its T3SS to infect extracellularly, but can enter the cell making it more difficult to kill. I am specifically interested in developing an assay that quantifies how often P. aeruginosa enters the cell in order to gain insight on how this phenomena contributes to the pathogens infection mechanism. A better understanding of Pseudomonas aeruginosa’s mechanisms will contribute to a more guided approach to how this pathogen can be combatted.

I wish to express my sincerest gratitude to the Pergo Foundation for their support. Without your generosity I would not be able to dedicate so many hours to doing something I love so much while expanding my skills and practical understanding of things I usually only get to interact with theoretically in a classroom setting. Your investment in me will open doors to new interests and opportunities that I am so excited for. Thank you!