Summer Undergraduate Research Mentored Experience

Return to list

Dr. Jianjun Sun

Department of Biological Sciences

Molecular pathogenesis, prevention and diagnosis of mycobacterium tuberculosis

Preferred major field of study or minimum required skills

Any students who have learned biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics in college are welcome to join the lab. Students with lab experience and biochemistry/microbiology background are preferred.

Scholarly significance/intellectual merit

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is one of the world’s leading infectious agents. It is estimated that M. tuberculosis infects one-third of the world’s population and kills 2-3 million people each year. China has the second highest “tuberculosis (TB) burdens” in the world after India. The extreme success of M. tuberculosis as a bacterial pathogen is attributed to its remarkable ability to modulate and evade a variety of host defense mechanisms. Understanding the details how M. tuberculosis manipulates host defense will help develop novel therapeutics and vaccines for treatment and prevention of TB. Failure to control the TB epidemic is largely due to lack of effective vaccines and diagnosis approaches. Dr. Sun's laboratory is devoted to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms of TB infection and develop novel therapeutics, vaccines and diagnosis against TB. Currently, Dr. Sun's lab focuses on ESAT-6 and CFP-10, the two important virulence factors of TB, which are the major targets for understanding of TB pathogenesis and for development of novel vaccines and diagnosis against TB.

Research question(s)

  1. What are the roles of ESAT-6 and CFP-10 in Mtb infection?
  2. How does ESAT-6 interact with the host membrane?
  3. What is the structure of ESAT-6 pore?
  4. What is the best ESAT-6 mutant for developing novel TB vaccines?
  5. How does ESAT-6 separate from CFP-10?
  6. How to develop ESAT-6/CFP-10 into novel diagnostic tools for TB?

Methods/techniques/instruments to be learned/utilized

Dr. Sun's lab is specialized in analysis of protein structure and function using advanced techniques in biochemistry, biophysics and cell biology. Students will learn various techniques and operate state-of-art instruments, including but not limited to: mutagenesis, protein expression and purification (FPLC), protein fluorescence, bacterial infection, confocal fluorescence microscopy, etc.