Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Publication Date

Spring 4-19-2023


Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Biology, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Schoenfeld

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation


The goal of the research was to characterize a gene of interest from Bordetella pertussis, the bacteria that causes Whooping cough. This is an extremely contagious respiratory tract infection that is characterized through its severe coughing fits that leave a person gasping, giving the “whoop” sound that the illness is known for. While there is a vaccine, rates are increasing, and predicted to continue in the future. Finding specific functions for all genes in a pathogen allows researchers more opportunity to inhibit the infectious cycle more thoroughly giving rise to better treatments and preventative measures. The specific gene of interest chosen was BPD420_00515. It is predicted to be a surface antigen, found on the outer membrane of the cell. Bacterial surface antigens have been found to play roles in assembly and extracellular exchange, such as horizontal gene transfer that results in evolutionarily advantageous mutations for that pathogen. They are also known to have a role in triggering host immune responses, which target foreign bacterial cells creating antibodies that target the infectious bacteria. To perform research on the function of the gene of interest, a knockout mutant in B. pertussis was made that could be compared to the wild-type strain. This was completed by taking advantage of the natural bacterial process of homologous recombination, DNA repair that allows the strands to seal without the gene of interest in the nucleic acid coding. After successfully creating the knockout mutant, studies will be conducted to determine the effect of the deletion on the B. pertussis growth, host cell attachment, and extracellular exchange.