Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Division of Infectious Disease
The Wright lab uses cryo-electron microscopy and molecular biology approaches to explore the three dimensional structures of bacteria, viruses, and macromolecular complexes. The goal is to use this information to aid in the development of novel antimicrobials, therapeutics, and vaccines.
The flagella and pili of many bacteria are essential for motility, adherence, biofilm formation, and are often crucial virulence factors for pathogenic species. For many species, the two appendages are temporally and spatially regulated and organized to work either in synchrony or alternately in order to coordinate motility and surface colonization. Our long-term goal is to understand 1) the structural implications of the incorporation of multiple flagellins into the flagellar filament and 2) the structural variation between pili at the macromolecular level. Currently, we use two model systems, Vibrio species and Caulobacter crescentus, to study bacterial pathogenesis and virulence, bacterial appendage structure and function, and bacteria-bacteriophage interactions.
Our long-term goal is to understand the structural basis of virus assembly in pleiomorphic viruses, using HIV, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and measles virus (MeV) as model systems. These projects explore how the viral proteins, cellular proteins, cellular/viral membrane composition, and cell type define the structure of the assembling and budding virus.
In addition to the biological projects, we are developing and implementing technologies and methods to push the limits of cryo-EM and its correlation with other imaging modalities.