Dr. Rachna Chaba
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Bacterial Genetics and Physiology
Integrating metabolism with other cellular processes provides the robustness enabling bacterial survival in diverse environments, key to their success as commensals, pathogens and industrial workhorses. Research in my laboratory is focused towards understanding the interconnections between metabolic pathways and their integration with stress responses in the model microbe, E. coli. In this direction, my lab utilizes genetic, biochemical, and systems approaches to identify and characterize novel players and networks in metabolism. Current lab projects focus on two major areas:
Systems level analysis of long chain fatty acid metabolism: Long chain fatty acids (LCFAs) are used as a rich source of metabolic energy by several bacteria including important pathogens. Since LCFAs also induce oxidative stress, which may be detrimental to the bacteria, it is imperative to understand the strategies employed by bacteria to counteract it. In this regard, by performing a high-throughput quantitative genetic screen on LCFAs and a detailed follow-up analysis of the oxidative stress response players identified from the screen, we are currently unraveling the mechanisms by which bacteria combat LCFA-induced oxidative stress. In addition, our screen has identified several uncharacterized genes and genes of known functionality but no previous linkage to LCFAs to be required for successful growth on LCFAs suggesting missing players and networks in LCFA metabolism thus opening new areas of investigation.
Understanding crosstalk of sugar acid metabolism with other metabolic pathways: E. coli utilizes a variety of sugar acids as carbon and energy source, which has been implicated in its colonization in the mammalian gut. From our genetic studies, we have identified a putative transcriptional repressor of sugar acid metabolism to be required for successful growth on fatty acids and few additional carbon sources. We are characterizing the transcriptional repressor and investigating whether there is a crosstalk between metabolic pathways of the above-mentioned carbon sources to prioritize sugar acid utilization.
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