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Jon Paczkowski, Ph.D.

Jon Paczkowski, Ph.D.

Microbial Signal Transduction and Cell-cell Communication
Ph.D., Cornell University
Postdoctoral training: Princeton University

Research Interests

Quorum sensing (QS) is a process of bacterial cell-cell communication that controls virulence and biofilm formation in many bacterial species, including the pathogens Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Vibrio cholerae. QS relies on the production, accumulation, detection, and population-wide response to extracellular signal molecules called autoinducers (AI). QS allows bacteria to synchronously alter gene expression patterns that underpin collective behaviors.

QS is now understood to be the norm in the bacterial world. Nonetheless, how different bacterial QS receptors selectively bind ligands to initiate signal transduction is not understood. Defining ligand-receptor interactions and how ligands are selected or rejected in QS-mediated communication will be key for generally understanding the molecular principles underlying receptor specificity and promiscuity, and specifically, the respective benefits and drawbacks of strict versus relaxed ligand detection in QS-mediated communication.

Bacteria live in heterogeneous communities and encounter mixtures of AIs produced by themselves, their kin, and their non-kin neighbors. Learning how bacteria correctly interpret these blends of AIs and elicit appropriate gene expression responses is essential to understand how bacteria communicate, and, more globally, to understand how all organisms decode environmental stimuli. QS presents a unique opportunity to understand these longstanding questions in biology.

Select Publications

Paczkowski JE, McCready AR, Cong JP, Li Z, Jeffrey PD, Smith CD, Henke BR, Hughson FM, Bassler BL.
An Autoinducer Analogue Reveals an Alternative Mode of Ligand Binding for the LasR Quorum-Sensing Receptor.
ACS Chem Biol.
(2019 Mar)
McCready AR, Paczkowski JE, Cong JP, Bassler BL.
An autoinducer-independent RhlR quorum-sensing receptor enables analysis of RhlR regulation.
PLoS Pathog.
(2019 June)
McCready AR, Paczkowski JE, Henke BR, Bassler BL.
Structural determinants driving homoserine lactone ligand selection in the Pseudomonas aeruginosa LasR quorum-sensing receptor.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.
(2019 Jan 2)
Høyland-Kroghsbo NM, Paczkowski J, Mukherjee S, Broniewski J, Westra E, Bondy-Denomy J, Bassler BL.
Quorum sensing controls the Pseudomonas aeruginosa CRISPR-Cas adaptive immune system.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.
(2017 Jan 3)
Paczkowski JE, Fromme JC.
Structural basis for membrane binding and remodeling by the exomer secretory vesicle cargo adaptor.
Dev Cell.
(2014 Sep 8)