Dissertation Defense Announcement
To:  The George Mason University Community

Candidate: Bryan A. Millis
Program:    PhD Biosciences

Date:   Thursday November 3, 2011
Time:   10:00 a.m. 
Place:  George Mason University
 	     Occoquan Bldg., Room 203
	     Prince William campus
Dissertation Chair: Dr. Serguei Popov
Committee members: Dr. Charles L. Bailey, Dr. Raymond Weinstein, Dr. Taissia Popova

Title: "Induction of Host Extracellular Protein Dysfunction by Bacillus anthracis
Hemolytic Factors"

The dissertation is on reserve in the Johnson Center Library, Fairfax campus.
The doctoral project will not be read at the meeting, but should be read in advance. 

All members of the George Mason University community are invited to attend.


Barrier dysfunction represents one of the most predominant manifestations of an anthrax infection.  Massive pleural edema, which is classic of inhalational anthrax, is perhaps one of the only consistent symptoms among victims of this pathogen.  However, despite much research into how the pathogen escapes the initial immune response, there remains little treatment option at later symptomatic stages of infection.  This work demonstrates that a group of molecules having functions in barrier organization, including Syndecan-1, are either shed from the cell surface, or dysfunctional in this role.  This dysfunction is co-incident with manifestations of hemodynamic imbalance, resulting in both accumulation within the liver and induction of disseminated intravascular coagulopathy.  Further, we suggest specific secreted virulence factors that contribute to this dysfunction through acceleration of host cell shedding processes regulated by MAP kinase cascades.  The mechanism of action of these virulence factors points toward signaling disturbances which result not only in loss of these cell surface molecules, but also cytoskeletal disorganization and decoupling from adhesion processes.