Summer Undergraduate Research Mentored Experience

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Dr. Jianjun Sun

Department of Biological Sciences

Roles of anthrax toxin receptor 2 in anthrax toxin action and screening of anthrax toxin inhibitors

Preferred major field of study or minimum required skills

Students with knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics at college level are all welcome to join the lab. Students with lab experience and biochemistry/microbiology background are preferred.

Scholarly significance/intellectual merit

Dr. Sun’s lab focuses on how bacterial pathogens cause human diseases. One of our research interests is to investigate the function of anthrax toxin receptor on anthrax toxin action and develop anthrax inhibitors from natural products. Bacillus anthracis is the causative agent for anthrax and can be used as a potential biological weapon. The symptoms of anthrax are mainly attributed to the action of anthrax toxin. Anthrax toxin binds to cell surface receptor and traffics into the endosome, where anthrax toxin forms a protein-conductive pore on the endosomal membranes and translocate toxic enzymes into the cytosol to disrupt cellular function. Our recent study has suggested that anthrax toxin receptor plays an essential role in the anthrax toxin action. Disruption of the disulfide bonds in the anthrax toxin receptor inhibited the anthrax toxin action. Thus, our lab is investigating the mechanism of the disulfide-mediated inhibition of the toxin action and screening natural antioxidants that block anthrax toxin action through disrupting the receptor disulfide bonds.

Research question(s)

  1. What is the cellular redox regulator of anthrax toxin receptor?
  2. What are the active components in rosemary that inhibit anthrax toxin function?
  3. Which natural antioxidants disrupt the disulfide bonds of anthrax toxin receptor?

Methods/techniques/instruments to be learned/utilized

Dr. Sun's lab is specialized in protein biochemistry, protein-membrane interaction and cell biology. Students will learn cutting-edge techniques for characterization of protein structure and function and protein-membrane interaction. Students will also learn to use anthrax toxin to challenge human cells and perform high-throughput screening of natural antioxidants that inhibit anthrax toxin action