B.A., Luther College - Biology and ChemistryPh.D., Arizona State University - Molecular and Cellular
BiologyPostdoctoral Research - Princeton University
While it may be detrimental to my future at WLC to admit, I
grew up in Minnesota rooting for all of the Minnesota sports teams including
the Vikings. Despite moving all around the country for my education and
employment, my loyalties have not changed. Given this steadfastness in support
of these teams, I believe my allegiances for these teams is genetic and despite
my thorough training in genetics and molecular biology, I have not found the
specific gene that causes this or a way to change it. Therefore, I will accept
your sympathy for this affliction and any talented players for my teams.
Bacteria are everywhere and perform a variety of tasks that
can be both beneficial and harmful to humans. They are necessary for making
certain food products, aiding in human digestion, and they can be exploited for
industrial purposes. Most commonly, however, bacteria are known for their
ability to cause harmful infections in the human body. With the discovery and
utilization of antibiotics in the 20th century, many thought bacterial
infections would eventually become a thing of the past. Unfortunately, bacteria
are becoming resistant to these antibiotics. To compound that fact, new
antibiotics are becoming increasingly difficult to find and develop. Therefore,
it is growing increasingly important to understand the bacterial mechanisms of
antibiotic resistance and find alternate methods of controlling infections.
My current research interests focus on viruses that infect
bacteria (bacteriophages) and an antibiotic resistance mechanism in Escherichia coli. Bacteriophages were
discovered in the early 20th century and almost immediately studied
for their potential use as a treatment for bacterial infections in humans. Unfortunately,
these studies were largely abandoned after the discovery of antibiotics. The
increase in antibiotic resistance has made bacteriophage study very relevant
again. My students and I isolate new bacteriophages from the wild and
characterize their bacterial infection mechanisms.
The E. coli
antibiotic resistance complex, TolC-AcrAB, was a focus of my graduate studies
at Arizona State University. The 2015 iGEM studied the TolC protein as a
receptor for bacteriophage binding. My current research interests involve
investigating whether the TolC protein from bacteria other than E. coli can function in E. coli and serve as bacteriophage
receptors. This research is important for understanding how this antibiotic
resistance mechanism works, developing safer ways of isolating bacteriophages
that infect pathogenic bacteria, and studying bacterial evolution.
While this is my current research focus, I have several
other areas of interest as well. If you are interested in these fields or my
specific research, please contact me or stop by my office. I am always looking
for students to help me with this work.
August 2015 - “Rapid identification of coliphage membrane
receptors using a gene deletion library”Molecular Genetics of Bacteria and Phages Conference,
September 2015 - “Project tolsee” – Presented by the WLC
iGEM team2015 iGEM Jamboree, Boston, MA. (Gold Medal)
May 2015 - “Effects of osmotic stress on the cytoskeletal
protein MreB in Escherichia coli” – Presented by Steven Van AlstineAmerican Society for Microbiology General Meeting, New
October 2014 - “Sugar rush” – Presented by the WLC iGEM team2014 iGEM Jamboree, Boston,
MA. (Bronze medal)
September 2014 – “Discovery through genetics: New screens to
answer old questions” – Invited speakerLoyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL.
Goley, E., Dye, N., Werner, J., Gitai, Z. and Shapiro, L.
2010. Imaging-based identification of a critical regulator of FtsZ
protofilament curvature in Caulobacter. Mol Cell. 39(6):975-87.
Ingerson-Mahar, M., Briegel, A., Werner, J., Jensen, G. and
Gitai, Z. 2010. The metabolic enzyme CTP synthase forms cytoskeletal filaments.
Nat Cell Biol. 12(8): 739-46.
Werner, J. and Gitai, Z. 2010. High-throughput screening of
bacterial protein localization. Methods Enzymol. 471:185-204.
Werner, J., Chen, E., Guberman, J., Zippilli, A., Irgon, J.
and Gitai, Z. 2009. Quantitative genome-scale analysis of protein localization
in an asymmetric bacterium. PNAS. 106(19): 7858-63.
Briegel, A., Ding, H., Li, Z., Werner, J., Gitai, Z., Dias,
D., Jensen, R. and Jensen, G. 2008. Location and architecture of the
Caulobacter crescentus chemoreceptor array. Mol Microbiol. 69(1): 30-41.
Perry, G., Dominy, N., Claw, K., Lee, A., Fiegler, H.,
Redon, R., Werner, J., Villanea, F., Mountain, J., Misra, R., Carter, N., Lee,
C. and Stone, A. 2007 Diet and the evolution of human amylase gene copy number
variation. Nat Genet. 39(10): 1256-60.
Charlson, E., Werner, J. and Misra, R. 2006. Differential
effects of yfgL mutation on Escherichia coli outer membrane proteins and
lipopolysaccharide. J Bacteriol. 188(20): 7186-94.
Malinverni, J., Werner, J., Kim, S., Sklar, J., Kahne, D.,
Misra, R. and Silhavy, T. 2006. YfiO stabilizes the YaeT complex and is
essential for outer membrane protein assembly in Escherichia coli. Mol
Microbiol. 61(1): 151-64.
Werner, J., Misra, R. 2005. YaeT (Omp85) affects the
assembly of lipid-dependent and lipid-independent outer membrane proteins of
Escherichia coli. Mol Microbiol. 57(5): 1450-9.
Werner, J., Augustus, A., Misra, R. 2003. Assembly of TolC,
a structurally unique and multifunctional outer membrane protein of Escherichia
coli K-12. J Bacteriol. 185(22): 6540-7.