Simeon Holmes-What I am working on this summer!
Cryptococcus deneoformans is an opportunistic human fungal pathogen that mainly infects immunocompromised patients, including AIDs patients and patients with organ transplant. It infects approximately 280 thousand people and contributes to about 180 thousand deaths per year. Though C. neoformans species complex poses a huge threat to global human health, few strategies are available in treating Cryptococcosis.
The purpose of my research in Dr. Heitman’s lab is to study the functions of two essential cell cycle regulating genes involved in the endoreplication pathway during Cryptococcus deneoformans unisexual reproduction. To study these essential genes, we plan to use the copper repressive promoter pCTR4 and the galactose inducible promoter pUGE2 to modulate gene expression. By up- and down-regulating these genes, we would like to examine how perturbation of gene expression could impact C. deneoformans unisexual reproduction and other cellular processes.
Study of essential genes also provides opportunity in discovery of novel drug targets that are essential for cell growth. We are interested in testing how these genes impact the virulence of the pathogen by using DAmP alleles of these genes with disrupted terminators. Based on these work, we could potentially apply these techniques in studying essential genes in other fungal pathogens and provide hope in novel anti-fungal target discoveries