A photograph of fluorescence-labeled cells by Dr. Christopher Fenno, an associate professor in the Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences, is featured on the cover of the September issue of AEM, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, published by the American Society for Microbiology.
Fenno is senior author of an article that appears in the publication, “A Modified Shuttle Plasmid Facilitates Expression of a Flavin Mononucleotide-Based Fluorescent Protein in Treponema denticola ATCC 35405.
Fenno says that bacterial pathogens, including those found in periodontitis, can alter normal tissue function. One such organism is Treponema denticola (T. denticola) which has been isolated from complex oral microbial communities that contribute to periodontal disease. Due to a lack of genetic tools available to study this organism, progress in understanding how it alters tissue function has been limited.
In the cover article of the September issue, a team of researchers led by Fenno reports advances in methods that will enable scientists to better study how T. denticola participates in tissue destruction. Their approach facilitates the introduction of genetic material into the organism so that the role of individual genes can be studied.
As a proof of principle demonstration, the researchers introduced a gene encoding novel fluorescent protein into T. denticola. While most fluorescence-expressing proteins used in research require oxygen for their activity, the protein used in this study is active in both the presence and absence of oxygen. This approach, using a flavin mononucleotide-based fluorescent protein (FbFP), will enable more rigorous studies of the behavior of this microbe in the oxygen-depleted subgingival environment.
Posted October 16, 2015