Buruli ulcer

Prof. Pamela Small

Nationality: American

E-mail: psmall@utk.edu

Present positions

  • Professor of Microbiology, Associate Chair, Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, United States of America
  • Faculty, Graduate School of Genome Science and Technology, Knoxville, United States of America
  • Faculty, Spetses Summer School: Molecular basis of bacterial virulence and survival within infected hosts and in the environment (European molecular Biology Organization)

Areas of expertise/interest

Microbial genetics:

  • Development of genetic systems for working with M. ulcerans and related organisms.
  • Construction of defined mutants in M. ulcerans which affect mycolactone production and which might serve as vaccine strains
  • Construction of fluorescently labelled M. ulcerans for use in animal and insect studies
  • Virulence of M. ulcerans
  • Cellular microbiology of M. ulcerans-host cell interactions, immunosuppression
  • Mechanism and cellular target of the mycolactone toxins
  • Biochemistry and genetics of mycolactones produced by different mycobacterial isolates
  • Do differences in mycolactone structure translate into differences in virulence?
  • Role of mycolactone in the virulence of other closely-related aquatic mycobacteria organisms
  • Development of a M. ulcerans-specific PCR probe for identification of M. ulcerans in the environment
  • Identification of M. ulcerans in the environment (in collaboration with rich Merritt) and use of African insect species for studies of insect-bacterial interaction
  • Production of mycolactone for the research community
  • Analysis of a Mycolactone-specific antibody for use in diagnostics and perhaps therapeutics (in collaboration with Gerd Pluschke, Paul Johnson and Ian McKenzie)

Recent publications

  • Käser M, Hauser J, Small P, Pluschke G. Large sequence polymorphisms unveil the phylogenetic relationship of environmental and pathogenic mycobacteria related to Mycobacterium ulcerans. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2009 Sep;75(17):5667-75. Epub 2009 Jul 10. [Abstract/Free full text]
  • Simmonds RE, Lali FV, Smallie T, Small PL, Foxwell BM. Mycolactone inhibits monocyte cytokine production by a posttranscriptional mechanism. J Immunol. 2009 Feb 15;182(4):2194-202. [Abstract/Free full text]
  • Houngbédji GM, Côté CH, Small PL, Frenette J. Limited repair and structural damages displayed by skeletal muscles loaded with mycolactone. Microbes Infect. 2009 Feb;11(2):238-44. Epub 2008 Dec 16. [Abstract/Free full text]
  • Mosi L, Williamson H, Wallace JR, Merritt RW, Small PL. Persistent association of Mycobacterium ulcerans with West African predaceous insects of the family belostomatidae. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Nov;74(22):7036-42. Epub 2008 Oct 3. [Abstract/Free full text]
  • Benbow ME, Williamson H, Kimbirauskas R, McIntosh MD, Kolar R, Quaye C, Akpabey F, Boakye D, Small P, Merritt RW. Aquatic invertebrates as unlikely vectors of Buruli ulcer disease. Emerg Infect Dis. 2008 Aug;14(8):1247-54. [Abstract/Free full text]
  • Rybniker J, Plum G, Robinson N, Small PL, Hartmann P. Identification of three cytotoxic early proteins of mycobacteriophage L5 leading to growth inhibition in Mycobacterium smegmatis. Microbiology. 2008 Aug;154(Pt 8):2304-14. [Abstract/Free full text]
  • Wagner T, Benbow ME, Burns M, Johnson RC, Merritt RW, Qi J, Small PL. A Landscape-based model for predicting Mycobacterium ulcerans infection (Buruli Ulcer disease) presence in Benin, West Africa. Ecohealth. 2008 Mar;5(1):69-79. Epub 2008 Feb 8. [Abstract/Free full text]
  • Williamson HR, Benbow ME, Nguyen KD, Beachboard DC, Kimbirauskas RK, McIntosh MD, Quaye C, Ampadu EO, Boakye D, Merritt RW, Small PL. Distribution of Mycobacterium ulcerans in Buruli Ulcer Endemic and Non-Endemic Aquatic Sites in Ghana. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2008 Mar 26;2(3):e205. [Abstract/Free full text]
  • Portaels F, Meyers WM, Ablordey A, Castro AG, Chemlal K, de Rijk P, Elsen P, Fissette K, Fraga AG, Lee R, Mahrous E, Small PL, Stragier P, Torrado E, Van Aerde A, Silva MT, Pedrosa J. First Cultivation and Characterization of Mycobacterium ulcerans from the Environment. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2008 Mar 26;2(3):e178. [Abstract/Free full text]
  • En J, Goto M, Nakanaga K, Higashi M, Ishii N, Saito H, Yonezawa S, Hamada H, Small PL. Mycolactone is responsible for the painlessness of Mycobacterium ulcerans infection (buruli ulcer) in a murine study. Infect Immun. 2008 May;76(5):2002-7. Epub 2008 Mar 3. [Abstract/Free full text]