E coli cells

NSF funds Ruiz Rueda’s quest to understand how bacteria spit out antibiotics

CSUN Assistant Professor of Biology Cristian Ruiz Rueda received a new grant from the National Science Foundation this summer, which will support his lab’s continuing study of bacterial multidrug efflux (MDR) pumps.

The three year, $350,000 grant from the Division of Cellular and Molecular Biosciences has been awarded in full to the Ruiz Rueda Lab to study the multiple roles of MDR pumps in bacteria. Efflux is an essential function in all life forms. MDR pumps play a pivotal role in resistance to multiple antibiotics in Gram-negative pathogens such Escherichia coli. Studies from the Ruiz Rueda Lab have uncovered additional important roles of MDR pumps and their regulators in controlling gene expression, cell metabolism, motility, and other physiological functions in bacteria.

Molecular structure of a MDR pump
Molecular structure of a MDR pump (via eLife)

The new NSF funding will support research to identify the molecular mechanisms underlying the multiple functions of MDR pumps. This knowledge is essential to predict how cells adapt to metabolic or environmental changes and thus, in understanding how bacteria maintain homeostasis and colonize new environments. These studies will also bring a new insight into multiple areas such as developing new antibiotics and efflux inhibitors to treat antibiotic resistant infections, or bioengineering bacteria to improve the production of biofuels and other value-added compounds.

Image: Colorized scanning electron micrograph of Escherichia coli cells (Wikimedia Commons)