Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Washington (2012)
  • Bachelor of Science, University of California San Diego (2005)

Stanford Advisors


Journal Articles

  • The Pel and Psl polysaccharides provide Pseudomonas aeruginosa structural redundancy within the biofilm matrix ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY Colvin, K. M., Irie, Y., Tart, C. S., Urbano, R., Whitney, J. C., Ryder, C., Howell, P. L., Wozniak, D. J., Parsek, M. R. 2012; 14 (8): 1913-1928


    Extracellular polysaccharides comprise a major component of the biofilm matrix. Many species that are adept at biofilm formation have the capacity to produce multiple types of polysaccharides. Pseudomonas aeruginosa produces at least three extracellular polysaccharides, alginate, Pel and Psl, that have been implicated in biofilm development. Non-mucoid strains can use either Pel or Psl as the primary matrix structural polysaccharide. In this study, we evaluated a range of clinical and environmental P.aeruginosa isolates for their dependence on Pel and Psl for biofilm development. Mutational analysis demonstrates that Psl plays an important role in surface attachment for most isolates. However, there was significant strain-to-strain variability in the contribution of Pel and Psl to mature biofilm structure. This analysis led us to propose four classes of strains based upon their Pel and Psl functional and expression profiles. Our data also suggest that Pel and Psl can serve redundant functions as structural scaffolds in mature biofilms. We propose that redundancy could help preserve the capacity to produce a biofilm when exopolysaccharide genes are subjected to mutation. To test this, we used PAO1, a common lab strain that primarily utilizes Psl in the matrix. As expected, a psl mutant strain initially produced a poor biofilm. After extended cultivation, we demonstrate that this strain acquired mutations that upregulated expression of the Pel polysaccharide, demonstrating the utility of having a redundant scaffold exopolysaccharide. Collectively, our studies revealed both unique and redundant roles for two distinct biofilm exopolysaccharides.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2011.02657.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000306899900009

    View details for PubMedID 22176658

  • Structure of the Cytoplasmic Region of PelD, a Degenerate Diguanylate Cyclase Receptor That Regulates Exopolysaccharide Production in Pseudomonas aeruginosa JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Whitney, J. C., Colvin, K. M., Marmont, L. S., Robinson, H., Parsek, M. R., Howell, P. L. 2012; 287 (28): 23582-23593


    High cellular concentrations of bis-(3',5')-cyclic dimeric guanosine mono-phosphate (c-di-GMP) regulate a diverse range of phenotypes in bacteria including biofilm development. The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa produces the PEL polysaccharide to form a biofilm at the air-liquid interface of standing cultures. Among the proteins required for PEL polysaccharide production, PelD has been identified as a membrane-bound c-di-GMP-specific receptor. In this work, we present the x-ray crystal structure of a soluble cytoplasmic region of PelD in its apo and c-di-GMP complexed forms. The structure of PelD reveals an N-terminal GAF domain and a C-terminal degenerate GGDEF domain, the latter of which binds dimeric c-di-GMP at an RXXD motif that normally serves as an allosteric inhibition site for active diguanylate cyclases. Using isothermal titration calorimetry, we demonstrate that PelD binds c-di-GMP with low micromolar affinity and that mutation of residues involved in binding not only decreases the affinity of this interaction but also abrogates PEL-specific phenotypes in vivo. Bioinformatics analysis of the juxtamembrane region of PelD suggests that it contains an ?-helical stalk region that connects the soluble region to the transmembrane domains and that similarly to other GAF domain containing proteins, this region likely forms a coiled-coil motif that mediates dimerization. PelD with Alg44 and BcsA of the alginate and cellulose secretion systems, respectively, collectively constitute a group of c-di-GMP receptors that appear to regulate exopolysaccharide assembly at the protein level through activation of their associated glycosyl transferases.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M112.375378

    View details for Web of Science ID 000306511300029

    View details for PubMedID 22605337

  • Expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PelD ACTA CRYSTALLOGRAPHICA SECTION F-STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY AND CRYSTALLIZATION COMMUNICATIONS Marmont, L. S., Whitney, J. C., Robinson, H., Colvin, K. M., Parsek, M. R., Howell, P. L. 2012; 68: 181-184


    The production of the PEL polysaccharide in Pseudomonas aeruginosa requires the binding of bis-(3',5')-cyclic dimeric guanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP) to the cytoplasmic GGDEF domain of the inner membrane protein PelD. Here, the overexpression, purification and crystallization of a soluble construct of PelD that encompasses the GGDEF domain and a predicted GAF domain is reported. Diffraction-quality crystals were grown using the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method. The crystals grew as flat plates, with unit-cell parameters a = 88.3, b = 114.0, c = 61.9 Å, ? = ? = ? = 90.0°. The PelD crystals exhibited the symmetry of space group P2(1)2(1)2 and diffracted to a minimum d-spacing of 2.2 Å. On the basis of the Matthews coefficient (V(M) = 2.29 Å(3) Da(-1)), it was estimated that two molecules are present in the asymmetric unit.

    View details for DOI 10.1107/S1744309111052109

    View details for Web of Science ID 000299948000015

    View details for PubMedID 22297994

  • The Pel Polysaccharide Can Serve a Structural and Protective Role in the Biofilm Matrix of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PLOS PATHOGENS Colvin, K. M., Gordon, V. D., Murakami, K., Borlee, B. R., Wozniak, D. J., Wong, G. C., Parsek, M. R. 2011; 7 (1)


    Bacterial extracellular polysaccharides are a key constituent of the extracellular matrix material of biofilms. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a model organism for biofilm studies and produces three extracellular polysaccharides that have been implicated in biofilm development, alginate, Psl and Pel. Significant work has been conducted on the roles of alginate and Psl in biofilm development, however we know little regarding Pel. In this study, we demonstrate that Pel can serve two functions in biofilms. Using a novel assay involving optical tweezers, we demonstrate that Pel is crucial for maintaining cell-to-cell interactions in a PA14 biofilm, serving as a primary structural scaffold for the community. Deletion of pelB resulted in a severe biofilm deficiency. Interestingly, this effect is strain-specific. Loss of Pel production in the laboratory strain PAO1 resulted in no difference in attachment or biofilm development; instead Psl proved to be the primary structural polysaccharide for biofilm maturity. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Pel plays a second role by enhancing resistance to aminoglycoside antibiotics. This protection occurs only in biofilm populations. We show that expression of the pel gene cluster and PelF protein levels are enhanced during biofilm growth compared to liquid cultures. Thus, we propose that Pel is capable of playing both a structural and a protective role in P. aeruginosa biofilms.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.ppat.1001264

    View details for Web of Science ID 000286654100021

    View details for PubMedID 21298031

  • Strain-associated virulence factors of Streptococcus iniae in hybrid-striped bass VETERINARY MICROBIOLOGY Buchanan, J. T., Colvin, K. A., Vicknair, M. R., Patel, S. K., Timmer, A. A., Nizet, V. 2008; 131 (1-2): 145-153


    Streptococcus iniae is a major fish pathogen producing invasive infections that result in economic losses in aquaculture. Development of in vitro models of S. iniae virulence may provide insight to the pathogenesis of infection in vivo. Three S. iniae strains (K288, 94-426, and 29178) were tested for virulence in a hybrid-striped bass (HSB) model using intraperitoneal injection. S. iniae strains K288 and 94-426 caused high levels of mortality in HSB (lethal dose 2x10(5)CFU) while strain 29178 was avirulent even upon IP challenge with 1000-fold higher inocula. In vitro assays were developed to test for the presence of characteristics previously associated with virulence in other species of pathogenic Streptococcus in animals and humans. In vitro differences relevant to virulence were not detected for beta-hemolysin activity, sensitivity to antimicrobial peptides, or adherence and invasion of epithelial cell layers. However, in whole-blood killing assays, the pathogenic strains were resistant to blood clearance, while 29178 was cleared (P<0.001) and more sensitive to complement (P<0.001). The avirulent strain 29178 was most efficiently phagocytosed and was most susceptible to intracellular killing (P<0.01) by the carp leukocyte cell line (CLC). When exposed to reactive oxygen species, strain 29178 was most susceptible. When the oxidative burst of CLC cells was inhibited, intracellular survival of 29178 was rescued fivefold, while no significant enhancement in survival of K288 or 94-426 was detected. Our results indicate that resistance to phagocytosis, oxidative killing, and associated phagocytic clearance is a significant factor in S. iniae virulence.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.vetmic.2008.02.027

    View details for Web of Science ID 000259549000015

    View details for PubMedID 18406547

  • Streptococcus iniae beta-hemolysin streptolysin S is a virulence factor in fish infection DISEASES OF AQUATIC ORGANISMS Locke, J. B., Colvin, K. M., Varki, N., Vicknair, M. R., Nizet, V., Buchanan, J. T. 2007; 76 (1): 17-26


    Streptococcus iniae is a leading pathogen of intensive aquaculture operations worldwide, although understanding of virulence mechanisms of this pathogen in fish is lacking. S. iniae possesses a homolog of streptolysin S (SLS), a secreted, pore-forming cytotoxin that is a proven virulence factor in the human pathogen S. pyogenes. Here we used allelic exchange mutagenesis of the structural gene for the S. iniae SLS precursor (sagA) to examine the role of SLS in S. iniae pathogenicity using in vitro and in vivo models. The isogenic Delta sagA mutant was less cytotoxic to fish blood cells and cultured epithelial cells, but comparable to wild-type (WT) S. iniae in adherence/invasion of epithelial cell monolayers and resisting phagocytic killing by fish whole blood or macrophages. In a hybrid striped bass infection model, loss of SLS production led to marked virulence attenuation, as injection of the Delta sagA mutant at 1000x the WT lethal dose (LD80) produced only 10% mortality. The neutralization of SLS could represent a novel strategy for control of S. iniae infection in aquaculture.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000247715900003

    View details for PubMedID 17718161

  • Streptococcus iniae capsule impairs phagocytic clearance and contributes to virulence in fish JOURNAL OF BACTERIOLOGY Locke, J. B., Colvin, K. M., Datta, A. K., Patel, S. K., Naidu, N. N., Neely, M. N., Nizet, V., Buchanan, J. T. 2007; 189 (4): 1279-1287


    Surface capsular polysaccharides play a critical role in protecting several pathogenic microbes against innate host defenses during infection. Little is known about virulence mechanisms of the fish pathogen Streptococcus iniae, though indirect evidence suggests that capsule could represent an important factor. The putative S. iniae capsule operon contains a homologue of the cpsD gene, which is required for capsule polymerization and export in group B Streptococcus and Streptococcus pneumoniae. To elucidate the role of capsule in the S. iniae infectious process, we deleted cpsD from the genomes of two virulent S. iniae strains by allelic exchange mutagenesis to generate the isogenic capsule-deficient DeltacpsD strains. Compared to wild-type S. iniae, the DeltacpsD mutants had a predicted reduction in buoyancy and cell surface negative charge. Transmission electron microscopy confirmed a decrease in the abundance of extracellular capsular polysaccharide. Gas-liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis of the S. iniae extracellular polysaccharides showed the presence of l-fucose, d-mannose, d-galactose, d-glucose, d-glucuronic acid, N-acetyl-d-galactosamine, and N-acetyl-d-glucosamine, and all except mannose were reduced in concentration in the isogenic mutant. The DeltacpsD mutants were highly attenuated in vivo in a hybrid striped bass infection challenge despite being more adherent and invasive to fish epithelial cells and more resistant to cationic antimicrobial peptides than wild-type S. iniae. Increased susceptibility of the S. iniae DeltacpsD mutants to phagocytic killing in whole fish blood and by a fish macrophage cell line confirmed the role of capsule in virulence and highlighted its antiphagocytic function. In summary, we report a genetically defined study on the role of capsule in S. iniae virulence and provide preliminary analysis of S. iniae capsular polysaccharide sugar components.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/JB.01175-06

    View details for Web of Science ID 000244279600012

    View details for PubMedID 17098893

Stanford Medicine Resources: