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NV Space Grant Highlight: Multiple regulatory inputs control type three secretion in the bacterial pathogen Shigella flexneri, Joy Immak, UNLV

Posted on: August 29th, 2018 in: NASA Space Grant, NASA Space Grant Highlights
Joy Immak, PhD Candidate, UNLV
Shigella flexneri (shown in red) can spread from host cell to cell using actin-based (shown in green) motility. Image provided courtesy of Dr. Marcia Goldberg, Harvard Medical School.

NASA Content and Resources Used:
This project was supported by a Graduate Research Fellowship from the Nevada NASA Space Grant Consortium (Sponsor Award #NNX15AI02H). Publications by NASA scientists provided reference information for the project.

nevada space grant

NV Space Grant Highlight

Multiple regulatory inputs control type three secretion in the bacterial pathogen Shigella flexneri by Joy Immak, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

PI: Helen J. Wing (University of Nevada, Las Vegas)


The goal of this project is to understand transcriptional regulation used by the bacterial pathogen, Shigella flexneri, to control the secretion of effector proteins via the type three secretion system (T3SS) needle. This analysis is important because many bacterial pathogens use the T3SS to inject effector proteins into a human host cell to cause disease. Despite rigorous attempts to maintain a clean room for spacecraft assembly, Shigella flexneri and other bacterial pathogens have been found in air samples obtained at the Johnson Space Center. I hope that my findings can be used to develop novel therapeutics and/or a more effective live-attenuated S. flexneri vaccine.

This project peaked my interest in how bacterial pathogens respond to external signals found within the host environment. The NASA funding provided me with the rare opportunity to focus solely on my research. Altogether, this experience has reinforced my drive to continue academic research pursuits after I graduate.

Return on Investment (ROI) To Date

New proposals/scholarships awarded: 5
Publications/presentations: 6
Students impacted, research experience and expertise: 4