Biomedical Research Infrastructure Center

Pamela Jones, Ph.D.

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Temperature is a major determinant of growth and gene expression. Adaptation of prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms to a shift up in temperature requires the induction of the well-characterized heat shock response. The observation that a shift to low temperature results in the increased synthesis of proteins, called cold shock proteins, indicates that physiological changes are also required for adaptation to low temperature. One of the cold shock proteins of the bacterium Escherichia coli is CsdA, which is specifically required for optimal growth only at low temperatures. CsdA is a member of the DEAD-box family of ATP-dependent RNA helicases. DEAD-box proteins, which also have been shown to be cold-shock inducible in other organisms, are involved in various cellular processes (such as RNA splicing, ribosome biogenesis, translational initiation, mRNA degradation, and cell division) that required disruption of double-stranded regions in RNA. The specific aim of my research is to elucidate the specific function of CsdA in bacterial physiology at low temperatures. Therefore, the expected results from my study will clarify the role of DEAD-box proteins for growth at low temperatures, reveal unique requirements for organismal growth at low temperature, and contribute to our general understanding of cellular physiology at low temperature, an area that is poorly understood. This study may also introduce us to other mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and ways to develop new antimicrobial drugs. This aspect is particularly worth investigating, since an increasing number of pathogenic bacteria are developing antibiotic resistance.

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