Ashwini Sunkavalli


Ashwini Sunkavalli
BTech, Biotechnology
SRM University
Chennai, India
MS, Biotechnology
University of Texas at Dallas
Dallas, TX
PhD Student in Cell, Molecular & Developmental Biology



Neisseria gonorrhoeae is the etiological agent of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) gonorrhea, a high morbidity disease worldwide with ~ 106 million cases annually. Like many human pathogens this organism must adapt to environments encountered during infection, including low pH and varying oxygen and iron levels. Tight control of gene expression in the gonococcus is mediated in part by the Fur protein, which binds to specific DNA sequences leading to either activation or repression of a repertoire of genes. Our lab recently reported that the gonococcal Fur regulon extends to additional regulatory proteins, which together contribute to gonococcal mechanisms of pathogenesis. We also established that subsets of Fur regulated genes are expressed during natural gonococcal infection in men and women relative to during growth in vitro. My project involves studying these novel Fur regulatory networks expressed and regulated in the human genital tract and defining their contribution to natural infection.

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