Future Faculty Career Exploration Program Seminar: Mechanisms of cellular division and proliferation

Event Image
FFCEP seminar melissa lamanna

Future Faculty Career Exploration Program
Two from one: mechanisms of cellular division and proliferation

Dr. Melissa Lamanna
PhD in Microbiology
Emerging Pathogens Institute
University of Florida

Location Change: The seminar will now be held in 1250 Gosnell Hall.


To live bacteria must beget two cells from one, a fundamental process known as cellular division. Dr. Lamanna works to elucidate mechanisms of cellular division as 1) solving fundamental processes is cool and 2) bacterial division is the main target of antibiotic medicines. We know that division of bacteria requires assembly of a machine comprised of over 20 different proteins, however, many proteins remain uncharacterized. Attributing function is important as different antibiotics target specific proteins of the machine. Antibiotics are effective as inactivating one protein abrogates machine function and bacterial death ensues. These uncharacterized proteins serve as facile targets for development of new antibiotics, a key need as antibiotic resistance is rising. Towards unraveling the molecular underpinnings of this machine, Dr. Lamanna studied division of the opportunistic pathogen S. pneumoniae. Specifically, she resolved the role RodZ, a highly conserved bacterial protein implicated in division. Using an arsenal of molecular approaches, including co-immunoprecipitations, transformations, depletion experiments, and co-localization assays, she found that RodZ is required for proper assembly of the division machine. Furthermore, absence of RodZ is lethal to S. pneumoniae, showcasing its essentiality to bacteria. As we tease apart the machine, we discover that division, a simple event, is utterly complex and intwined to its innermost parts. Also, this machine that exists inside bacteria (which may or may not live inside of you) moves. That’s right, it is not stagnant, but rather circumferentially transits the bacterial cell body. Probing motion, Dr. Lamanna used high resolution microscopy, single particle tracking, and molecular techniques to identify the driving force behind motion as well as capture the movement patterns of machine proteins. It seems that the chemical, enzymatic reactions of physically making new cell material (peptidoglycan) powers the machine forward in space. In addition to investigating S. pneumoniae, Dr. Lamanna collaborates openly with the scientific community and is currently tackling division of the obligate intracellular pathogen C. trachomatis. Untreated C. trachomatis infections result in irreversible damage such as blindness (eye) or sterilization in (reproductive) women. Yet, little is known regarding its division mechanisms as C. trachomatis is a recalcitrant system. Resultantly, Dr. Lamanna uses out-of-the-box” thinking and the technical dexterity to address long standing questions in the field. Her current findings (unpublished works) will be shared during the Program’s presentation seminar.  

Speaker Bio:
My doctoral work was conducted at Indiana University Bloomington, under the tutelage of Dr. Malcolm Winkler, and funded by my pre-doctoral F31 fellowship. The overarching goal of my research was investigating the peptidoglycan (PG) synthesis machinery of the opportunistic pathogen and ovoid (football shaped) Streptococcus pneumoniae. Currently, I am working to solve by what mechanism C. trachomatis grows and divides as an intracellular pathogen. I am fascinated by the molecular movement patterns of the nanomachines bacteria use to grow and divide.

Intended Audience:
Beginners, undergraduates, graduates. Those with interest in the topic.

This event is co-sponsored by The Office of Faculty Diversity and Recruitment
To request an interpreter, please visit https://myaccess.rit.edu

Andra Nelkin
Event Snapshot
When and Where
September 23, 2022
1:00 pm - 1:50 pm
Room/Location: 1250

Open to the Public

Interpreter Requested?