Sjodt, Megan M. (2012-2014)


Megan is in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.  She joined the training program in 2012. Her research mentor is Dr. Robert Clubb.  She received a B.S. degree in 2010 from Cal Poly Pomona. 


Mentor: Dr. Robert Clubb

Research project:


Staphylococcus aureus causes a range of life-threatening diseases and is a leading cause of infections in the United States.  The arrival of antibiotic-resistant strains has made it crucial to understand the molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis.  Iron is an essential nutrient for S. aureus growth and is actively procured from humans during an infection. Heme-iron within Hemoglobin (Hb) ispreferentially used by S. aureus as an iron source.  It is acquired by S. aureus using nine Iron regulated surface determinant (Isd) proteins that first capture Hb on the cell surface, extract its heme, and pass it across the cell wall.  The heme is then imported into the cytoplasm and degraded to release free iron.  The Isd-system is required for S. aureusvirulence and related systems are present in a number of other clinically important pathogens.  Therefore, understanding how this system procures heme from Hb could facilitate the development of anti-infective agents that inhibit heme-acquisition.  To that end, I am performing advanced NMR spectroscopic techniques, such as residual dipolar coupling (RDC) and paramagnetic relaxation enhancement (PRE) experiments, to elucidate the molecular structure of the Hb receptor, IsdH, which uses multiple domains to synergistically steal heme from Hb.