Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Rebecca Ferreira Alves L&S Biological Sciences

Regulation of the Non-Mevalonate Pathway Genes of L. Monocytogenes

Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) is a facultative intracellular pathogen used as a vaccine vector in over 20 cancer vaccine trials for its ability to induce robust CD8+ T-cell responses. Lm is also capable of inducing the V𝛾9V𝛿2 T-cells subset of the 𝛾𝛿 T-cells which possess strong cytotoxic capabilities against tumors. The Portnoy lab identified that the non-mevalonate pathway of isoprenoid biosynthesis that produces HMBPP, the activator of V𝛾9V𝛿2 T-cells, functions only anaerobically. To fully understand how Lm can produce HMBPP and induce the V𝛾9V𝛿2 T-cells immune response, I seek to investigate the transcription of the seven non-mevalonate pathway genes and explore the conditions that lead to their expression. There is a gap in knowledge between the transcriptional response of the seven genes of Lm and its ability to stimulate V𝛾9V𝛿2 T-cells. By exploring the non-mevalonate pathway gene expression, this investigation will also aid the development of Lm therapeutic strains that are modified to express the target non-mevalonate genes to improve HMBPP production through this pathway.

Message To Sponsor

Thank you to the donors and organizers of this fellowship for your kind commitment to undergraduate research. This type of support is priceless, and key in both the academic and personal development of students like myself. I am appreciative of this learning opportunity and I look forward to researching over the summer.
Major: Molecular & Cell Biology
Mentor: Daniel Portnoy, Preethi Thattai Ragunathan
Sponsor: CACSSF
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