Life Science Seminar: Identifying the Mechanism of Direct Binding Between Streptococcus pneumoniae and influenza

Life Sciences Seminar
Identifying the Mechanism of Direct Binding Between Streptococcus pneumoniae and influenza

Trevor Penix
PhD Candidate, St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Biotechnology and Molecular Biosciences '20

Hundreds of thousands of people die from influenza each year around the world, but the virus may not be working alone. Respiratory bacterial pathogens have been known to take advantage of influenza-infected hosts, greatly exacerbating disease. From the pandemic of 1918 to the swine flu of 2009, autopsies suggest secondary bacterial infections play a significant role in morbidity and mortality. Mechanisms have been established to explain this synergistic disease, but they all pertain to an indirect relationship between the two pathogens. Recently, the Rosch lab found that influenza can bind directly to the surface of Streptococcus pneumoniae, presenting a new, direct mechanism of synergy. Through preliminary studies, I have found the viral protein hemagglutinin to bind to S. pneumoniae, and as a part of my thesis project, I intend to find the bacterial counterpart of this protein interaction. Through proteomic and genetic approaches, I plan to uncover the molecular players responsible for this binding as well as determine the role this binding plays in disease. The goal is to develop a deeper understanding of this mechanism to help inform treatment of high-risk influenza patients, hopefully preventing deadly secondary bacterial infections.

Speaker Bio:
Originally born in Prince Frederick, Maryland, Trevor Penix got his Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology and Molecular Biosciences from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2020, with minors in Applied Statistics and Game Design. During his undergraduate career, Trevor studied quorum-sensing in plant endophytes in the lab of Dr. Michael Savka. Currently, Trevor is working on his PhD at the St Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Memphis, Tennessee. He works in the lab of Dr. Jason Rosch studying the synergistic relationship between influenza and Streptococcus pneumoniae in invasive disease.

Intended Audience:
Undergraduates, Graduates, Experts.

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Event Snapshot
When and Where
February 22, 2023
1:00 pm - 1:50 pm
Room/Location: A300

This is an RIT Only Event

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