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Microbiology

Hepatitis E Virus structural studies from the Tao Lab
2009MIcrobiology_Tao

A new era in our understanding of the microbial world is beginning with the availability of genomic sequences of many organisms of ecological, industrial and medical interest.  This trove of information coupled with advances in genetic methods and biochemical measurements has brought new insights into mechanisms of pathogenesis, metabolic processes, and gene regulation.  Since microbes provide the simplest system for study of a process they have often been used in the elucidation of detailed mechanisms of many basic cellular processes.  Now in addition, they serve leading roles in efforts for the computational modeling of cell functions, and initiatives to understand the diversity and interactions of natural biological communities.  At Rice University we are employing these techniques in studies of microbial behavior in response to various stresses, how metabolic functions are switched in response to environmental conditions, virus-microbe interactions, and basic mechanisms of  biological processes.  Many applications of this field exist and include forming all sorts of desired products through metabolic engineering, providing a source of improved diagnostics and pharmaceuticals, and promoting their biodegradative abilities to remove hazardous waste.

Complementation of E. coli CV2 by vectors encoding three pairs of BsAK and TnAK truncations from the Silberg Lab

Faculty links:
George N. Bennett:  Response of microbes to stress and use of metabolic engineering to generate strains with beneficial properties (lab home page).

Janet Braam:  High throughput screens for novel anti microbial compounds to combat acquired antibiotic resistance (lab home page).

Michael C. Gustin:  Genetic analysis of stress signaling pathways in yeast and Drosophila.

Seiichi P. T. Matsuda:   Metabolic engineering to generate valuable natural products in yeast; investigation of metabolism in pathogenic fungi and protozoa.

Edward P. Nikonowicz:  NMR spectroscopy of RNA and RNA-protein interactions - correlation of structure, function, and dynamics; biophysical studies and engineering of RNA regulatory elements; small molecule-RNA interactions; biophysical and functional studies of tRNA base modification.

Yousif Shamoo:  The evolutionary and molecular basis for antibiotic resistance, directed evolution of protein structure-function, and the underlying biophysical and physicochemical principles of adaptation within bacterial populations (lab home page).

Jonathan Silberg: Investigation of the processes controlling molecular evolution, particularly the evolution of protein structure, function, and molecular recognition using biochemical, computational, and molecular biological methods (lab home page).

Charles R. Stewart:  Bacteriophage molecular genetics:  mechanisms of host-takeover during bacteriophage infection; mechanisms of bactericidal gene action.

Yizhi Jane Tao:  Structure and function of RNA viruses; RNA virus genome replication and genome packaging; influenza A virus; dsRNA viruses; astroviruses (lab home page).

Influenza A virus RNP structure studies
from the Tao lab