Areas of Expertise
Teaching Responsibilities: Microbiology, Pathogenic Bacteriology
Research Interests: Human infectious diseases
B.S. (Biology) Duke University (1996)
Ph.D. (Microbiology) University of California, Davis (2004)
Postdoctoral training- Duke University, Kuehn Lab
My major research focuses on how bacterial outer membrane virulence factors trigger inflammatory responses. Many of these virulence factors in gram-negative bacteria are found on outer-membrane vesicles. Outer membrane vesicles are a naturally secreted product of gram-negative bacteria. Vesicles form as a portion of the outer membrane and periplasmic contents are selectively “blebbed” off to form round vesicles. Vesicles have been detected in infected human tissues and have been shown to contain a variety of virulence factors. My research focuses on determining the role that outer membrane vesicles play in stimulating host inflammatory responses. Potential research projects in my lab include:
Characterize the virulence factors and host responses to bacterial vesicles from clinically relevant bacterial isolates.
Outer membrane vesicles have been identified in every gram-negative bacterial species in which they have been studied. However, their role in virulence and triggering host responses has only been investigated in a handful of species. I want to branch out and investigate the composition and role of vesicles in other common sources of infection such as Klebsiella pneumonia and Acinetobacter baumanii.
Characterize how antibiotic resistance alters outer membrane vesicle production and composition.
Outer membrane vesicles have been well studies in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Multiple courses of antibiotic treatment often results in Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections that have developed resistance. Current research indicates that exposure to antibiotics and the development of resistance may alter both the protein composition and levels of vesicle production by bacteria. This project would investigate how vesicle production and composition are altered by exposure to and development of antibiotic resistance in Pseudomonas or other bacterial species.
Publications & Presentations
Ellis, TN., Leiman, SA*, and Kuehn, MJ. 2010. Naturally produced outer membrane vesicles from Pseudomonas aeruginosa elicit a potent innate immune response via combined sensing of both LPS and protein components. Infection and Immunity In Press.
Ellis, TN. and Kuehn, MJ. 2010. Virulence and immunomodulatory roles of bacterial outer membrane vesicles. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews. 74(1) 81-94.
Tzeng, L., Ellis, TN., and Singer, M. 2006. DNA Replication during Aggregation Phase Is Essential for Myxococcus xanthus Development. Journal of Bacteriology. 188(8): 2774-9.
Ellis, TN., and Beaman, BL. 2004 Interferon-g Activation of Polymorphonuclear Neutrophil Function. Immunology. 112(1):2-12.
Ellis, TN., and Beaman, BL. 2002. Murine Polymorphonuclear Neutrophils produce Interferon-g in response to pulmonary infection with Nocardia asteroides. Journal of Leukocyte Biology. 72: 373-381.
King, DP., Hyde, DM., Jackson, KA., Novosad, DM., Ellis, TN., Putney, L., Stovall, MY., Van Winkle, LS., Beaman, BL., and Ferrick, DA. 1999. Cutting Edge: Protective Response to Pulmonary Injury Requires gd T Lymphocytes. Journal of Immunology: 162(9):5033-6.