(From the December 2013 issue of Research Now)
Acinetobacters are Gram-negative bacteria found widely in the environment. Pathogenic Acinetobacter species cause severe and recalcitrant bacterial infections in immunocompromised individuals. These infections include ventilator-associated pneumonia, bacteremia and surgical site infections. The majority of Acinetobacter infections are acquired in hospitals or long-term health care facilities. Dr. Robert Munson, Jr.’s lab is interested in understanding how Acinetobacter survives and persists on medically relevant surfaces and the mechanisms that Acinetobacter utilizes to successfully cause disease in humans.
Recent findings from Munson’s Lab include the novel observation that Acinetobacter produces functional extracellular appendages, called type IV pili, which mediate DNA uptake and twitching motility. The lab recently made the first observation of Acinetobacter utilizing a spring-loaded injection system, called a type VI secretion system, to kill competing bacteria, providing a potential survival advantage when the organism is competing with other Gram-negative species. In addition, the lab is leveraging its expertise in iron homeostasis and oxidative stress while researching nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae to study the survival of Acinetobacter during infection.
Carruthers MD, Harding CM, Baker BD, Bonomo RA, Hujer KM, Rather PN, Munson RS, Jr. Draft genome sequence of the clinical isolate Acinetobacter nosocomialis strain M2. Genome Announcements. 2013 Nov 7, 1(6):e00906-13.
Harding CM, Tracy EN, Carruthers MD, Rather PN, Actis LA, Munson RS. Acinetobacter baumanniistrain M2 produces type IV pili, which play a role in natural transformation and twitching motility but not surface-associated motility. Mbio. 2013 Aug 6, 4(4): e00360-13.
Carruthers MD, Nicholson PA, Tracy EN, Munson RS. Acinetobacter baumanniiutilizes a type VI secretion system for bacterial competition. PLoS One. 2013, 8(3): 0059388. Epub 2013 Mar 19.