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Faculty Detail    
Campus Address BBRB 661 Zip 2170
Phone  205-934-9531
Other websites Publications via PubMed

Faculty Appointment(s)
Appointment Type Department Division Rank
Primary  Microbiology  Microbiology Professor
Center  Center for AIDS Research  Center for AIDS Research Professor
Center  Center for Biophysical Sciences/Engineering  Center for Biophysical Sciences/Engineering Professor

Graduate Biomedical Sciences Affiliations
Cellular and Molecular Biology Program 
Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics 
Integrative Genetics Graduate Program 
Medical Scientist Training Program 

Biographical Sketch 
Janet Yother, Professor of Microbiology, completed her undergraduate studies in biology at UAB (B.S., 1980) while pursuing research in the area of microbial physiology and ecology. She attended UAB and the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences at Memphis for graduate work (Ph.D., Microbiology, 1985), studying the genetics of Yersinia pestis virulence determinants. She returned to UAB for postdoctoral studies concerning the genetics of Streptococcus pneumoniae and joined the faculty in 1991.

Society Memberships
Organization Name Position Held Org Link
American Society for Microbiology     

Research/Clinical Interest
Streptococcus pneumoniae capsular polysaccharides, genetics, and pathogenesis
The main focus of our research is on the capsular polysaccharides of Streptococcus pneumoniae, a gram positive pathogen that is a major etiologic agent of many human infections, including pneumonia, meningitis, and otitis media. The capsular polysaccharides represent the single most important virulence factor of S. pneumoniae, and their characterization has historically played an important role in the development of bacterial genetics and the understanding of bacterial virulence mechanisms. My lab studies the genetics, biochemistry, and virulence properties of these polysaccharides. Using genetic analyses, we have identified and characterized the type 3 capsule locus, which encodes the enzymes necessary for synthesizing a repeating glucose-glucuronic acid polymer. Our present studies are directed towards developing a better understanding of the mechanism of type 3 polysaccharide synthesis, identifying both the genetic and enzymatic bases for regulation of capsule expression, characterizing the specific mechanism by which the capsule affords protection again host immune defenses, and analyzing the regulation of capsule expression in animal models of infection. Also of major importance to these studies is the analysis of how capsule synthesis is linked to other essential cellular pathways. We are also characterizing similar properties for the type 2 capsule, which represents a more complex polysaccharide and genetic structure, has a different mechanism of polysaccharide synthesis, and utilizes different mechanisms of regulation than the type 3 capsule. Synthesis of the serotype 2 capsule involves an assembly apparatus that is comprised of multiple proteins. We are using genetic and biochemical analyses to identify the members of this complex and to determine their role in capsule formation. The biosynthetic mechanism for the serotype 2 capsule is representative of most of more than 90 S. pneumoniae capsular polysaccharides, as well as capsules and exopolysaccharides from other streptococci and Gram-positive bacteria, and capsules and O-antigens from Gram-negative bacteria. In contrast, the serotype 3 capsule is similar to cellulose, chitin, and hyaluronan from both prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. Thus, the study of these two capsule serotypes provides broad insights into polysaccharide genetics, synthesis, and regulation in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms.

Selected Publications 
Publication PUBMEDID

genetics, pathogenesis, capsules, regulation