The Rego lab studies the role that metabolic variability plays in the survival of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the microbe that causes tuberculosis. TB remains a global health threat and requires six to nine months of antibiotic treatment to eliminate the infection in a single individual. Because many antibiotics must be metabolized to become active, one way the bacterium can evade these drugs is by slowing its metabolic activity. But for an infection to linger, do all of the TB bacteria in the body have to power down their metabolism—or will a small handful suffice? Using a suite of advanced techniques in molecular and bacterial genetics, coupled with cutting-edge methods in single-cell imaging, the Rego lab will track the metabolic activity in individual bacterial cells before, during, and after exposure to drugs used to treat TB and assess how the metabolic state of an individual bacterial cell correlates with its growth rate and infectivity. Then, using a high-throughput genetic screen, we will search for the factors that promote variability. Their findings could aid in the design of therapeutics that reduce metabolic variability and make TB easier to eradicate.
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