Structural and biochemical characterization of Hfq homologs
The Hfq protein is a global, post-transcriptional regulator of gene expression in bacteria. First identified as a host factor essential for replication of the Escherichia coli RNA bacteriophage Qβ, Hfq is now known to represent the bacterial branch of a large, functionally diverse family of RNA-associated ‘Sm’ proteins. Over the last decade, Hfq has been linked to biological functions including quorum sensing, biofilm production, and the stabilization of various mRNA and sRNA complexes. Using a combination of biochemical and structural (crystallographic) approaches, my research aims to explore the functional roles of Hfq and Hfq-like proteins in quorum sensing and biofilm formation, particularly in terms of the evolutionary development of these unique biological capabilities.