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Christine Ponnampalam

Christine PonnampalamCooperating Doctoral Program: Genetics

EITS Track: Biomedical Toxicology

Education: B.S. Biology & Sociology, Central Michigan University

Research Interests:
My research in the Gulbransen lab has the overarching theme of investigating pathogenic bacteria (and the subsequent metabolites produced by them) and other know chemical factors that can lead to inflammation within the enteric nervous system (ENS). For the known chemical factors, I am starting with comparing the actively-translated transciptome of ENS glial cells during three different chemical models of gut inflammation: DSS, DNBS, and LPS (the last of which is of course also a bacterial compound), utilizing RiboTag mice bred with a glial-specific Cre recombinase line. The line will also be used with my other experiments investigating bacterial insult to the ENS to elucidate transcriptome differences. As for the pathogenic portion of my research, I have begun investigating the effects of a) the compound c-di-GMP and b) colitogenic strains of C. jejuni on the health of the ENS. C-di-GMP is a pro-colonization compound, produced in higher rates by pathogenic compared to commensal strains of gut bacteria; it has been previously implicated in immune response during parental dosage through STING recognition. As for the C. jejuni strains, I will begin by investigating the effects of a particularly colitogenic strain on the ENS, branching from here to examine the effects of other strains, additionally on humanized mice (i.e. containing human gut microbes from fecal transplants). The combination of these experiments and follow-up less exploratory, more focues experiments hopes to elucidate the effects of specific C. jejuni toxicants that are pro-inflammatory. In whole, these experiments serve to understand colitogenic compounds, either pathogenically-induced or otherwise, and the subsequent gene expression changes that underlie the host inflammatory response.

Major Professor: Brian Gulbransen, Neuroscience and Physiology