Dr. Patrick Curtis


Associate Professor
Department of Biology
The University of Mississippi


Office: 402 Shoemaker Hall
Email: pdcurtis@olemiss.edu
Telephone: 662-915-1911


index_clip_image002_0000My lab is interested in how bacteria adapt, repurpose and integrate signaling pathways to create complex cellular systems, particularly those of prokaryotic development. The model developmental bacterium Caulobacter crescentus has a dimorphic life cycle where after division the two resulting daughter cells have differing Description: cellcycle life styles. One cell has a thin cellular extension called the stalk; this cell can immediately re-enter the replication cycle. The other cell has a flagellum and is motile (swarmer cell), but cannot replicate. The swarmer cell must differentiate into a stalked cell before it can initiate replication. C. crescentus utilizes multiple regulatory systems (including global, temporally-controlled, and spatially-regulated systems) to create morphological and intracellular signaling asymmetry during cell division, but the extent and function of these systems are not well understood. My lab aims to understand the mechanisms by which these systems function.


Brevundimonas subvibrioides as a model organism
A close relative of C. crescentus, Brevundimonas subvibrioides, has the same developmental life cycle and many of the same developmental signaling systems. However, mutational analysis indicates there are several key differences in developmental signaling mutants of each species. This project will analyze the differences in the mutants to understand the mechanistic reasons for the differences, and what that can tell us about the function of the developmental signaling systems in each organism.

Conservation of essential genes
It is becoming increasing evident that whole or part of the C. crescentus developmental life style is conserved throughout the alpha subdivision of the proteobacteria. This result indicates that the developmental program was present in some form early in the evolutionary history of this subdivision. Because the developmental program is built into the life cycle, many aspects are essential to cell viability. I have initiated whole-genome level identification of essential genes for several organisms in the alphaproteobacteria using a combination of transposon mutagenesis and high-throughput DNA sequencing. This project will be a continuation of that research and will include essential gene analysis of more alphaproteobacteria as well as comparison of conserved essentiality. The aim of this project is to uncover new conserved developmental signaling systems, see how developmental signaling systems change evolutionarily, and explore the nature of essential genes in an evolutionary context.


BISC 333 – General Microbiology
BISC 438 – Bacterial Physiology
BISC 579 – Prokaryotic Development


1997-2001 B.Sc., Purdue University – Microbiology, Genetics
2001-2007 Ph.D., University of Georgia – Microbiology
2007-2012 Postdoc, Indiana University – Dr. Yves V. Brun


Curtis, PD and YV Brun. 2014. Identification of essential Alphaproteobacterial genes reveals operational variability in conserved developmental and cell cycle systems. Mol Microbiol. 93(4):713-35.

Curtis, PD, D Klein and YV Brun. 2013. Effect of a ctrA promoter mutation causing a reduction in CtrA abundance on the cell cycle and development of Caulobacter crescentus. BMC Microbiol. 13:166:1-12.

Curtis PD, Quardokus EM, Lawler ML, Guo X, Klein D, Chen JC, Arnold RJ, Brun YV. 2012. The scaffolding and signaling functions of a localization factor impact polar development. Mol Microbiol. 84:712-35.

Curtis, PD and YV Brun. 2010. Getting in the loop: regulation of development in Caulobacter crescentus. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 74:13-41.

Curtis, PD and YV Brun. 2010. A novel effector protein modulates response regulator activity without altering phosphorylation. Mol Cell. 39:319-20. [Preview article]

Curtis, PD and LJ Shimkets. 2008. Metabolic pathways relevant to predation, signaling, and development. p. 241-258. In DE Whitworth (ed), Myxobacteria III. ASM Press, Washington D.C.

Curtis, PD, RG Taylor, RE Welch and LJ Shimkets. 2007. Spatial organization of Myxococcus xanthus during fruiting body formation. J Bacteriol. 189:9126-30.

Curtis, PD, J Atwood 3rd, R Orlando and LJ Shimkets. 2007. Proteins associated with the Myxococcus xanthus extracellular matrix. J Bacteriol. 189:7634-42.

Curtis, PD, R Geyer, DC White and LJ Shimkets. 2006. Novel lipids in Myxococcus xanthus and their role in chemotaxis. Environ Microbiol. 8:1935-49.

Curtis, P, CH Nakatsu and A Konopka. 2002. Aciduric Proteobacteria isolated from pH 2.9 soil. Arch Microbiol. 178:65-70.