Bacterial Gas Defenses
Nitric oxide (NO) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) are well known signaling molecules in mammals. However, their functions in common bacteria are largely unknown. We demonstrated that various bacterial species generate NO and H2S enzymatically from arginine and cysteine, respectively, and that these two gases function to protect bacteria from oxidative stress and a wide range of antibiotics.
Moreover, bacterial NO and H2S act together to protect pathogens such as S. aureus and B. anthracis from immune attack. Microarray analyses indicated that endogenous NO and H2S regulate hundreds of bacterial genes. We are currently elucidating the molecular mechanisms of such regulation at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels.
We also study how these gases are regulated in bacteria and how they affect key physiological and clinically relevant processes such as biofilm formation, swarming, motility, sporulation, and quorum sensing.