Ernst Lab Projects

Cystic Fibrosis-specific Pseudomonas aeruginosa Lipid A Modifications

This project uses genetic, molecular biology, and analytical approaches to define biosynthetic genes and regulatory mechanisms required for the synthesis of cystic fibrosis-specific lipid A modifications in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

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Characterization of Lipid A Modifications in Francisella, Burkholderia, and Yersinia subspecies

This NIH-NIAID funded project uses genetic, molecular biology, and analytical approaches to define and elucidate the base structure of lipid A fromclinical and environmental isolates of Francisella, Burkholderia, and Yersinia subspecies. In addition, we will identify the role of environmental growth conditions in specific lipid A modifications.

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Lipid A-based Adjuvant Molecules

This project will generate modified lipid A structures with altered proimflammatory responses via expression of heterologous lipid A biosynthetic enzymes. Individual lipid A structures will be tested for adjuvant potential in a variety of in vitro and in vivo models.

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Lipid Signatures of Differentially-Cultivated Francisella tularensis and Acinetobactor baumannii

Mass spectrometry and gas chromatography-based approaches will be used to establish comprehensive lipidomic databases for Francisella tularensis and Acinetobacter baumannii grown under standard laboratory conditions and those which mimic the bacteria’s natural environment(s) with the potential use to discern between a naturally-occurring microbe and one previously cultured and maliciously dispersed.

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