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Kelly Hughes


Ph.D. University of Utah

Graduate Program Membership:

Office/Building: Biol 217
Phone: 801-587-3367

Research Statement

Bacteria swim up chemical gradients, propelled by some of the tiniest, complex motors in the biosphere. The bacterial flagellum is one of the most remarkable structures in nature: a complex self-assembling nanomachine that allows bacteria to move in their environment. Assembly of large and complex organelles, such as the bacterial flagellum, poses the formidable problem of building substructures to specific design requirements that maximize efficiency. This process utilizes structural scaffolds, molecular rulers & clocks, a corking device, a cell wall penetration mechanism, the energy of the proton motive force, and secretion pilots, to facilitate the assembly process. In addition to mechanism that control assembly of specific substructures, the bacterium has mechanisms that couple temporal gene expression to specific stages of the organelle assembly process. In this way, structures required late in the assembly process are not synthesized until the precursor structures have been completed and genes for structures already completed are turned off.

Research Interests

General Interests
Specific Interests
  • Bacterial Flagellum Biogenesis
  • Gene Regulation of Complex
  • Biological Process in Bacteria
  • Microbial Type III protein secretion

Selected Publications

  • Fujii, T., T. Kato, K.D. Hiraoka, T. Miyata, T. Minamino, F.F. Chevance, K.T. Hughes, and K. Namba. Identical folds used for distinct mechanical functions of the bacterial flagellar rod and hook.Nat. Commun. (2017) 8:14276 (1-10).
  • Erhardt, M., P. Wheatley, E.A. Kim, T. Hirano, Y. Zhang, M.K. Sarkar, K.T. Hughes, and D.F. Blair. Mechanism of type-III protein secretion: Regulation of FlhA conformation by a functionally critical charged-residue cluster. Mol. Microbiol. (2017), in press.
  • Hughes, K.T. Mg2+-dependent translational speed bump acts to regulate gene transcription. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. (2016), 113: 14881-14883
  • Hengge, R., M.Y. Galperin, J.M. Ghigo, M. Gomelsky, J. Green, K.T. Hughes, U. Jenal, and P. Landini. Systematic nomenclature for GGDEF and EAL domain-containing cyclic di-GMP turnover proteins of Escherichia coli. J. Bacteriol. (2015) 198: 7-11.
  • Wee, D.H., and K.T. Hughes. A molecular ruler determines needle length for the Salmonella Spi-1 injectisome. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA (2015), 112: 4098-4103.

Courses Taught

  • Biol 5255: Prokaryotic Genetics