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Lisa Craig, Associate Professor

B.Sc., University of British Columbia
M.Sc., Simon Fraser University
Ph.D., Simon Fraser University

Phone: (778) 782-7140
Office: SSB 7151
Email: licraig@sfu.ca

Research Interest

Pili are hairlike filaments on the surfaces of many bacteria. In my lab we focus on Type IV pili, which are essential for virulence in many bacterial pathogens, such as Vibrio cholerae, pathogenic Escherichia coli, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The Type IV pili have diverse functions in colonization and virulence. These functions depend on the organism on which they are present, and include cell motility, adhesion, microcolony formation, DNA uptake, phage attachment and signaling. We are interested in determining the molecular structures of these pili with the goal of understanding their functions in pathogenesis and ultimately designing vaccines and therapeutics that can block these functions. We are attempting to answer the following questions:

What is the atomic structure of the pilin subunits?
How do the subunits fit together in the filament?
How are the filaments assembled?
How do Type IV pili carry out their many diverse functions in pathogenesis?
How does the pilus biogenesis apparatus function as a secretory organelle?
How do pilus-secreted proteins function in pathogenesis?
We are tackling these problems using a variety of methods:

  • x-ray crystallography
  • cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) and helical image processing
  • hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (DXMS)
  • computational modeling
  • site-directed mutagenesis
  • biochemical studies