Mermaid hair” Microtubules
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I am investigating how intestinal epithelial tight junctions recover from Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) infection. During infection tight junctions are disrupted, leading to severe dehydration as water and ions are lost. Tight junctions recover once the infection clears. My hypothesis is that microtubules, long strands of proteins that act as “molecular highways,” are required for recovery of tight junction function following infection. Potentially they conduct proteins to the cell membrane to rebuild the tight junction. The role of microtubules in recovery from infection has never been investigated. This image is of mouse small intestine stained for tubulin (red) and actin (green). Nuclei are blue. A lot of my research will be done using in vivo infection/imaging models, thus my ability to visualize these structures in tissues is crucial. I will be able to determine if microtubules are intact before, during and after EPEC infection as the tight junctions recover. This image represents the foundation of my investigation. Without being able to visualize microtubules, I would not be able to achieve my research goals.