Lisa Rucks, Ph.D.
- Assistant Professor, Basic Biomedical Science
- USD Sanford School of Medicine
- Postdoctorate Fellow, NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories, Helena, MT
- Ph.D., Microbiology and Immunology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
- B.S., College of Charleston, SC
Microbial manipulation of host SNARE machinery is an emerging field in cellular microbiology. Soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptors (SNARE) proteins mediate specific vesicular fusion events. Recently, SNARE proteins have been linked to the development of specialized intracellular niches critical to some intracellular bacteria. My research focuses on understanding the mechanisms which the obligate intracellular pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis employs to hijack metabolites from the host cell. C. trachomatis is associated with blinding trachoma and is the most common bacterially associated sexually transmitted disease. C. trachomatis is an obligate intracellular bacterium that replicates within a parasitophorous vacuole termed an inclusion.
The mechanisms by which the inclusion membrane, and thus, chlamydiae obtain nutrients are poorly understood. To examine Golgi-derived vectoral trafficking to the chlamydial inclusion, we developed a polarized epithelial cell model, which displayed that chlamydiae obtain sphingomyelin by preferentially intercepting Golgi-derived basolaterally-targeted exocytic vesicles. Consistent with this finding is the colocalization of the trans-Golgi SNARE protein syntaxin 6 to the chlamydial inclusion. The recruitment of syntaxin 6 requires chlamydial protein synthesis and is conserved across chlamydial species, suggesting that syntaxin 6 plays a critical role in chlamydial nutrient acquisition. The studies of my laboratory will focus on understanding the role of syntaxin 6 at the chlamydial inclusion membrane.