Division of Infection and Pathway Medicine seminar: Sander Granneman (Edinburgh) - Post-transcriptional regulation of adaptive responses in microorganisms

  • Title:  Post-transcriptional regulation of adaptive responses in microorganisms
  • When:  Monday 13 November 2017
  • Time:  12 pm
  • Location:  Seminar Room 4, Chancellor’s Building, Little France
  • Speaker:  Dr Sander Granneman, Wellcome Trust RCD Fellow at the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology (SynthSys)

Summary

Work in my lab is focusing on understanding how microorganisms manage to rapidly adapt (and even thrive) to sudden changes in their environment. Many pathogenic species have developed very sophisticated mechanisms to efficiently scavenge essential nutrients from the host environment and even evade the immune system.

We hypothesize that this successful rapid adaptation program is underpinned by the ability of the microorganism to very rapidly remodel its gene expression profile. Obviously, transcription factors largely dictate which genes are switched on and off during adaptive responses.

However, it is becoming increasingly clear that post-transcriptional regulation plays a key role in this process by shaping gene expression profiles. Small non-coding RNAs (sRNAs) and RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) are believed to play a crucial role in post-transcriptional regulation by modulating the translation efficiency and stability of mRNA targets. However, for the vast majority their function is unknown, underscoring the need for a thorough analysis of these molecules.

Over the years my group has developed a number of powerful high-throughput methods that enable us to unravel post-transcriptional regulatory networks controlled by non-coding RNAs and RBPs. Our initial studies in yeast and bacteria uncovered a novel role for RBPs in co-transcriptionally controlling the kinetics of stress-responsive genes as well as targets for thousands of bacterial sRNAs. These data provided intriguing insights into how these molecules are employed to fine-tune gene expression in response to stress.

Focusing on MRSA as a model system, we are now investigating how sRNAs and RBPs control adaptation to the hostile environment in the host blood stream as well as evasion of the immune system. Results from these studies will be presented.

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