Associate Professor, Department Chair
Office: SC-N 450
Our work focuses on analysis of a cluster of Escherichia coli genes which appear to play a role in cell cycle regulation. The analysis involves physiological studies on mutants carrying lesions in the relevant genes, isolation and manipulation of the genes, complementation studies using cloned genes and mutant cells, and attempts to understand the way the genes in the cluster are regulated. RNA measurements have led to the conclusion that several of the genes are co-expressed and more than one promoter may be involved in gene expression. Although some of the genes in the cluster appear to have a role in the cell cycle, the exact functions are unknown. One of the genes, yqgF, has been shown to be essential for E. coli survival. Homologues of this gene are found in other prokaryotes but no related genes or proteins have been identified in eukaryotes. The protein encoded by yqgF therefore fits the profile of a possible target for new types of antibiotics. We are attempting to determine the function of the YqgF protein by studying the effect of mutations that decrease its level of expression on cell function. One current approach involves monitoring the segregation of chromosomes in normal and mutant cells using fluorescence microscopy; another involves testing normal and mutant cells for differences in possible enzymatic activities predicted from bioinformatics studies.