Mentors: Will Youngsaye, Jackie Wurst
Vibrio cholerae is the bacterial species that causes cholera, an infection of the small intestines that induces the host to lose excessive – and often deadly – amounts of water. Like many species of bacteria, Vibrio have to ability to communicate with each other and use information about cell density to regulate behavior (a process known as quorum sensing). At low cell density, Vibrio cholerae attach themselves to the intestinal walls and release virulence factors. At high cell density, however, these bacteria release themselves so they can leave the body to infect another host.
Evan spent the summer synthesizing small molecule analogs of a successful hit from a prior large-scale chemical screen, to find compounds that affect the quorum sensing pathway in Vibrio cholerae. Promising compounds – such as one of the 11 analogs Evan synthesized, which was even more potent than the original hit compound – may be used in the future to treat contaminated water.
Evan, a senior at Boston Latin School, synthesized chemical compounds that affect the ability of Vibrio cholerae bacteria to sense whether they are at high or low cell density.