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School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Ana Jimena Pacheco Gutierrez

PhD student



Project title: Structural Studies of bacterial Type II Secretion System

Summary: Pathogenic bacteria secrete many different kinds of molecules that are used to invade their hosts. These virulence factors are secreted from the cytosol by dedicated protein secretion systems in bacteria. The Type II Secretion System transports folded proteins from the periplasm to the extracellular space causing disease and death in humans. The cholera toxin and E. coli enterotoxin are perhaps the best known toxins delivered by this system because of their devastating effect on human populations. The type II secretion system also secretes surface anchored proteins that promote biofilm biogenesis thereby sustaining bacterial colonies and protecting them from antibiotics. Its role in virulence raises the need for fundamental understanding of their structure and function. This project will focus on structural studies of the outer membrane complex proteins secretin and pilotin and its interaction with other assembly proteins like GspC using cryo transmission electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography.