John R Kirby Ph.D.

John R. Kirby
    (319) 335-7818

    "Chemosensory Signal Transduction in Bacteria"

    We are interested in chemosensory signal transduction systems that regulate motility and development in the bacterial model organism, Myxococcus xanthus.  Signal transduction in M. xanthus allows cells to detect and mediate responses to chemical cues, neighbor cell contact, and solid surfaces.  Large groups of cells engage in predatory behavior to feed on other bacterial species and aggregate into large mounds when starved in order to produce biofilms containing stress resistant spores.  M. xanthus utilizes over 120 two-component systems, including eight chemosensory (chemotaxis-like) signaling pathways to regulate these complex processes.  Current projects in the laboratory are focused on identifying the role of each chemosensory system, the level of cross-talk or cross-regulation between these highly homologous systems, and the novel aspects for the mechanism of signal transduction for each system.