Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

School or Department

Biological Sciences, Division of



Faculty Mentor

Dr. Mike Minnick

Faculty Mentor Department

Biological Sciences, Division of

Faculty Reader(s)

Mike Minnick


Bartonella bacilliformis, molecular biology

Subject Categories

Bacteriology | Immunology of Infectious Disease | Pathogenic Microbiology


Bartonella bacilliformis is a gram negative alpha-proteobacterium native to the Andes of South America. Bartonella causes Carrion’s disease, a potentially life threatening disease transmitted by the sand fly. It has a mortality rate of 88% when untreated and 10% when treated. Diagnostics and control measures for the disease are underdeveloped and no vaccine is available. Recent outbreaks indicate that the range of the pathogen is increasing with nearly 1.7 million people in western South America at risk. Little is known about the epidemiology and pathogenesis of B. bacilliformis. Recent research done by UC San Diego found a paralogous gene family that is shared only by the Bartonella and Leptospira genera. This is very intriguing since they are very far apart from each other phylogenetically. The gene family is suspected to affect the virulence of the bacterium, based on the findings that it was one of a few that mutated during an attenuation process and that during an infection of Leptospira in a mouse, all members of the gene family were up-regulated considerably. The objective of our research is to investigate what the paralogous gene family does and why both Leptospira and Bartonella have both maintained it. This will lead to a better understanding of Bartonella’s pathological processes and indicate if the proteins are bona fide virulence factors. Determining where in the cell the protein is located will give us a better understanding of its function. The B. bacilliformis gene Bb0452 has been cloned into an expression vector to generate a fusion protein with a His6 tag. This construct has been transformed into E. coli prior to the start of the study. We will purify recombinant Bb0452 protein from the E. coli using Ni-resin affinity purification, produce polyclonal anti-Bb0452 antibodies in a rabbit, and use the antibodies to localize Bb0452 in the B. bacilliformis cell.


This paper was submitted in December 2014.

Honors College Research Project




© Copyright 2017 Hannah Fay