2023 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Juliette K. Tinker


Staphylococcus aureus is a Gram-positive bacteria responsible for many types of infections. It is abundant in nature, even present on our own skin, usually harmless. However, it is the leading cause of infection in humans. S. aureus also harms animals, and in dairy cows, causes Bovine mastitis. This disease results in a decreased quality and quantity of milk, inflammation of the mammary glands, and can even be transmitted to humans.(1) Because of this, there are massive economic ramifications estimated at $629 million annually.(2) This study focuses on a virulent factor known as a-hemolysin (Hla) and cloning this into S. aureus bacteria to make a vaccine to treat bovine mastitis. This is a protein present on the cell membrane of S. aureus, known for its cytotoxic properties. To harm eukaryotic cells, research suggests that Hla has a close relationship with a eukaryotic cell receptor known as ADAM10. Normally, this receptor has a role in the development of the nervous system, and in precursor formation of the amyloid protein. When S. aureus is exposed to these cell receptors, a bridge is formed between the Hla protein of the bacteria and the surface receptor ADAM10. After the link is formed, the Hla protein drills a pore into the eukaryotic cell causing it to lyse. (3) This makes the Hla protein a great candidate for a vaccine, as if this interaction could be prevented, then harm would be reduced in the host cell.