Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology

KARINE A. GIBBS

Gibbs
Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Email: kagibbs@mcb.harvard.edu
Phone: 617-496-1637

Mail: BL 2021
The Biological Labs
16 Divinity Ave
Cambridge, MA  02138

Gibbs Lab Website
Members of the Gibbs Lab

Courses

MCB 121. The Microbes
Catalog Number: 19325  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Karine Gibbs
Course Level: For Undergraduates and Graduates
Description: This general microbiology course will focus on the genetics, cell biology, and physiology of microorganisms. The goal of this course is to give the students a broad overview of microbial physiology in the context of disease and environmental applications. The course will primarily consist of lectures with problem sets; we will also incorporate current and classical literature.
Meetings: Tu., Th., 2:30-4
MCB 379. Social Behaviors and Genetics of Bacteria
Catalog Number: 10595  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term; Repeated Spring Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Karine Gibbs
Course Level: Graduate Course
(View all MCB Courses)

Research

The goal of our research is to understand how cells and organisms distinguish between self and other. Specifically, we are investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying the ability of cells to discriminate self from non-self in the uropathogen Proteus mirabilis. The Gram-negative bacterium P. mirabilis is an opportunistic pathogen that causes urinary tract infections, most significantly in patients with long-term indwelling catheters. P. mirabilis populations can form crystalline biofilms and can cause the formation of kidney stones in patients. P. mirabilis populations display a remarkable phenomenon when migrating as a swarm across a surface: a visible boundary forms between swarms of different P. mirabilis strains. In contrast, swarms of the same strain do not give rise to a visible boundary and merge, indicating that P. mirabilis swarms are capable of territoriality and of self versus non-self recognition.

This self vs non-self recognition behavior in P. mirabilis is similar to allorecognition in eukaryotic cells and is analogous to territoriality in larger organisms. Conspecific self vs non-self recognition is widely found throughout biology, including E. coli, Plasmodium, plant roots, marine chordates, and vertebrate immune systems. Connecting these is a fundamental question: how does a cell recognize and differentiate self from non-self?

Recently we have identified a genetic locus in P. mirabilis that encodes components necessary for self vs non-self recognition and for the definition of strain-specific identity. We utilize approaches to microbiology, cell biology, molecular biology, and biochemistry to further dissect the role of these identified genes in self vs non-self recognition and moreover to understand the molecular mechanisms of social behaviors in bacteria.

Publications

O'Toole, GA, Gibbs, KA, Hager, PW, Phibbs, PV, and Kolter, R. (2000) The global carbon metabolism regulator Crc is a component of a signal transduction pathway required for biofilm development by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. J. Bacteriol., 182(2):425-31. PMID: 10629189  PMC94292

Gibbs, KA, Isaac, DD, Xu, J, Hendrix, RW, Silhavy, TJ, and Theriot, JA. (2004) Complex spatial distribution and dynamics of an abundant Escherichia coli outer membrane protein, LamB. Mol. Microbiol., 53(6):1771-83. PMID: 15341654  

Hardy, J, Francis, KP, DeBoer, M, Chu, P, Gibbs, K, and Contag, CH. (2004) Extracellular replication of Listeria monocytogenes in the murine gall bladder. Science, 303(5659):851-3. PMID: 14764883  

Gibbs, KA, Urbanowski, ML, and Greenberg, EP. (2008) Genetic determinants of self identity and social recognition in bacteria. Science, 321(5886):256-9. PMID: 18621670  PMC2567286

Gibbs, KA, Wenren, LM, and Greenberg, EP. (2011) Identity gene expression in Proteus mirabilis. J. Bacteriol., 193(13):3286-92. PMID: 21551301  PMC3133265

Gibbs, KA, and Greenberg, EP. (2011) Territoriality in Proteus: advertisement and aggression. Chem. Rev., 111(1):188-94. PMID: 21162556  PMC3024916

Sullivan, NL, Septer, AN, Fields, AT, Wenren, LM, and Gibbs, KA. (2013) The Complete Genome Sequence of Proteus mirabilis Strain BB2000 Reveals Differences from the P. mirabilis Reference Strain. Genome Announc, 1(5). PMID: 24009111  PMC3764406

Wenren, LM, Sullivan, NL, Cardarelli, L, Septer, AN, and Gibbs, KA. (2013) Two independent pathways for self-recognition in Proteus mirabilis are linked by type VI-dependent export. MBio, 4(4). PMID: 23882014  PMC3735182

updated: 04/15/2014