Davy Deng

Exploring Mechanisms Behind the Oxygen Dependence of Listeria Monocytogenes Intracellular Replication

Listeria monocytogenes is a pathogen often found in poorly preserved food , especially dairy products. L. monocytogenes can survive with or without oxygen as well as inside or outside of host cells. During infection, L. monocytogenes must pass through the low-oxygen environment in the intestines before entering the high-oxygen target tissue. It thus stands to reason that both aerobic and anaerobic growth processes might be important for L. monocytogenes pathogenesis. Recently, it has been shown that essential components of aerobic respiration are critical for intracellular replication in vivo. However, the specific role of aerobic respiration within host cells remains unclear. Here, I propose conducting three experiments about the role of aerobic respiration in L. monocytogenes pathogenesis. I will use both forward and reverse genetic approaches, for which I will both analyze pathogenic phenotypes from gene functions and vice versa. Such bidirectional approaches allow me to probe for possible roles of aerobic respiration in intracellular replication without bias and to validate them in a mouse model of infection.

Message to Sponsor

It has been a fantastic experience for me to be exposed to a full-time research opportunity that has enabled me to explore and integrate information outside of the classroom. SURF has made me more confident and more interested in pursuing science.
  • Major: MCB-Genetics, Genomics and Development; Chemical Biology; Psychology
  • Sponsor: Pergo Fund
  • Mentor: Dan Portnoy