Structural studies of Vibrio cholerae quorum sensing proteins
MetadataShow full item record
The spread of cholera is always associated with contaminated food or water and this is the reason this disease has been endemic in developing countries for centuries due to their lack of proper sanitation facilities and poor or no infrastructure for sewage systems. Cholera can spread quickly and sporadically after any natural disaster that destroys the sewage system or safe drinking water supply of both developed and undeveloped countries. In Southeast Asia in December 2004 and in Pakistan and Haiti 2010, cholera outbreaks followed the natural disasters; with most of the cholera victims being children. Although it is known that the best way to prevent cholera outbreak is the development of the infrastructure, provision of a safe drinking water supply and proper sanitation, this is a very long-term process, and most of the developing countries cannot afford such improvements. These situations can be made worse by natural disasters. Therefore there is a pressing need for the development of a cholera vaccine and there have been numerous research projects working towards this end for several decades. A few of them have been successful to date but because of the severe side effects and narrow range of protection, more effective and wider range vaccine development is still ongoing. In this study, crystallographic and enzymatic studies have been carried out on several novel proteins involved in the control of the production of the factors required for quorum sensing. Quorum sensing is a process in which bacterial cells communicate among themselves by the synthesis, release and detection of small chemical compounds called autoinducers. In this work, structural analysis was carried out on proteins involved in the synthesis and detection of the major autoinducer of Vibrio cholerae, named CAI-1. The crystal structure of CqsA involved in CAI-1 synthesis has been successfully solved and its enzymatic properties have been characterized. The structure of one domain of the cytoplasmic region of the CAI-1 receptor CqsS was also elucidated, and other domains were expressed. The crystal structure of another enzyme (VCA0859, an aldo-keto reductase) thought to have been involved in the synthesis of CAI-1 was also determined. Another protein named VCA0939 was also studied, due to its importance in biofilm development, and its ability to control quorum-sensing in an alternative pathway in the mutated version of pathogenic strains of V. cholerae that were responsible for the seventh cholera pandemic. The aim of this project was to understand the three dimensional structure of some proteins that are involved in quorum sensing and control of the expression of virulence genes for the pathogenesis of V. cholerae. Understanding the three dimensional structure of the proteins and the mode of autoinducer binding to its specific receptor could be highly valuable in the development of a chemical compound that could lead to the discovery of a novel drug with the ability to target cross species specification.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Items in the St Andrews Research Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.