Positions

Research Areas research areas

Overview

  • The protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii is estimated to infect over 2 billion people worldwide, including approximately 20% of Americans. This highly prevalent parasite is adept at establishing a long-term chronic infection that can reactivate to cause serious acute disease in immunocompromised or pregnant people. Although there are some limited treatments available to treat this acute stage of the infection, these therapies often cause toxic side effects, or allergic reactions and can be unsuitable for use in vulnerable patients. Furthermore, the chronic stage of the parasite is currently incurable.

    The goal of the Jeffers lab is to understand how the parasite activates or “switches on” gene expression to drive parasite growth and transition in its life cycle and cause disease. This complex process is influenced by a variety of factors, but we are currently interested in epigenetic mechanisms of control, specifically the contribution of bromodomain proteins. These proteins “read” gene activation marks on the chromatin to recruit other complexes that regulate transcription. Determining the role of the bromodomains in regulating Toxoplasma gene expression is not only a fascinating biological question but could also contribute to the development of more effective anti-parasitic drugs. We are now extending our interests in parasite gene expression to investigate precisely how the bromodomain proteins directly regulate the transcriptional initiation machinery and the factors that are necessary to activate a gene. We use an array of genomic, proteomic, molecular and cellular biology approaches to answer these questions.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title
    2021 Protein acetylation in the critical biological processes in protozoan parasites.Trends in Parasitology Parasitology Today.  37:815-830. 2021
    2019 A novel GCN5b lysine acetyltransferase complex associates with distinct transcription factors in the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii.Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology.  232:111203. 2019
    2018 A latent ability to persist: differentiation in Toxoplasma gondii.Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences.  75:2355-2373. 2018
    2017 Bromodomains in Protozoan Parasites: Evolution, Function, and Opportunities for Drug Development.Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews.  81:e00047-e00016. 2017
    2017 TgPRELID, a Mitochondrial Protein Linked to Multidrug Resistance in the Parasite Toxoplasma gondii.mSphere.  2:e00229-e00216. 2017
    2016 Garcinol Inhibits GCN5-Mediated Lysine Acetyltransferase Activity and Prevents Replication of the Parasite Toxoplasma gondii.Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.  60:2164-2170. 2016
    2015 Proteome-wide lysine acetylation in cortical astrocytes and alterations that occur during infection with brain parasite Toxoplasma gondii.PLoS ONE.  10:e0117966. 2015
    2014 Lysine acetyltransferase GCN5b interacts with AP2 factors and is required for Toxoplasma gondii proliferation.PLoS Pathogens.  10:e1003830. 2014
    2013 Extensive lysine acetylation occurs in evolutionarily conserved metabolic pathways and parasite-specific functions during Plasmodium falciparum intraerythrocytic development.Molecular Microbiology Microbiological Sciences.  89:660-675. 2013
    2013 Protein intrinsic disorder in the acetylome of intracellular and extracellular Toxoplasma gondii.Molecular BioSystems.  9:645-657. 2013
    2012 Toxoplasma histone acetylation remodelers as novel drug targets.Expert Review of Anti-Infective Therapy.  10:1189-1201. 2012
    2012 Lysine acetylation is widespread on proteins of diverse function and localization in the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii.Eukaryotic Cell.  11:735-742. 2012
    2012 Mechanisms of Toxoplasma gondii persistence and latency.FEMS Microbiology Reviews.  36:717-733. 2012

    Chapter

    Year Title
    2020 Proteomics and posttranslational protein modifications in Toxoplasma gondii.  983-1020. 2020
    2020 Regulation of gene expression in Toxoplasma gondii.  941-982. 2020

    Teaching Activities

  • Infectious Disease and Health Taught course 2021
  • Senior Honors Thesis Taught course 2021
  • Human and Animal Parasites Taught course 2020
  • Senior Honors Thesis Taught course 2020
  • Adv Rsrch Exp/MCBS Taught course 2020
  • Senior Honors Thesis Taught course 2020
  • Human and Animal Parasites Taught course 2019
  • Molecular Microbiology Taught course 2019
  • Molecular Microbiology Taught course 2019
  • Senior Honors Thesis Taught course 2019
  • Rsrch Exp/MCBS Taught course 2019
  • Education And Training

    Full Name

  • Vicki Jeffers