Martin Schuster

Associate Professor, Microbiology

Office: Nash 422
Phone: (541) 737-3496
Schuster Lab
Pub Med

Ph.D. 2000, University of North Carolina, Chapel HIll

KEYWORDS: Bacterial Communication; Genomics; Signal Transduction; Gene Regulation; Biofilms; Pathogenesis; Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Bacterial cell-to-cell signaling, termed quorum sensing, has emerged as a new field in microbiology. Individual bacteria use chemical signals to communicate with each other and coordinate group activities. The best understood signaling system employs diffusable acyl-homoserine lactone (acyl-HSL) molecules that are made by an acyl-HSL synthase and are bound by a cognate receptor that acts as a transcriptional activator. There are now over 70 known examples of such components in bacterial species. The opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa serves as a model system to study quorum sensing gene regulation. It employs at least two acyl-HSL signaling systems to control the expression of two large, overlapping sets of target genes.   In addition to its function as a global regulator of gene expression, quorum sensing in P. aeruginosa is also important for virulence and the formation of biofilms, surface-associated bacterial communities, which have been implicated in chronic persistent infection. As such, quorum sensing has become an important target for antimicrobial and antibiofilm strategies.

Our group investigates the molecular mechanisms of quorum sensing gene regulation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, including the identity of target genes, promoter specificity, quorum signal binding, integration of quorum sensing into cellular physiology, and the role of the two quorum sensing systems during biofilm formation.   We employ a wide variety of classic and contemporary techniques, encompassing genomics, genetics, biochemistry, and physiology.

Selected Publications

Schuster, M., Urbanowski, M.L., and Greenberg, E.P. (2004) Promoter specificity in Pseudomonas aeruginosa quorum sensing revealed by DNA binding of purified LasR. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101: 15833-15877

Bagge, N., Schuster, M., Hentzer, M., Ciofu, O., Givskov, M., Greenberg, E.P., Hoiby, N. (2004) Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms exposed to imipenem exhibit changes in global gene expression and beta-lactamase and alginate production. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 48: 1175-1187

Schuster, M., Hawkins, A.C., Harwood, C.S., and Greenberg, E.P. (2004) The Pseudomonas aeruginosa RpoS regulon and its relationship to quorum sensing. Mol. Microbiol. 51: 973-985

Schuster, M., Lostroh, C.P., Ogi, T., and Greenberg, E.P. (2003) Identification, timing, and signal specificity of Pseudomonas aeruginosa quorum-controlled genes: a transcriptome analysis. J. Bacteriol. 185: 2066-2079

Schuster, M., Silversmith, R.E., and Bourret, R.B. (2001) Conformational coupling in the chemotaxis response regulator CheY. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 98: 6003-6008

Schuster, M., Zhao, R., Bourret, R.B., and Collins, E.J. (2000) Correlated switch binding and signaling in bacterial chemotaxis. J. Biol. Chem. 275: 19752-19758

Abouhamad, W.N., Bray, D., Schuster, M., Boesch, K.C., Silversmith, R.E., and Bourret, R.B. (1998) Computer aided resolution of an experimental paradox in bacterial chemotaxis. J. Bacteriol. 180: 3757-3764

Ramakrishnan, R., Schuster, M., and Bourret, R.B. (1998) Acetylation at Lys92 enhances signaling by the chemotaxis response regulator CheY. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95: 4918-4923

Schuster, M., Abouhamad, W.N., Silversmith, R.E., and Bourret, R.B. (1998) Chemotactic response regulator mutant CheY95IV exhibits enhanced binding to the flagellar switch and phosphorylation dependent constitutive signalling. Mol. Microbiol. 27: 1065-1077.