Dr Egbert Hoiczyk
0114 222 2733
Honours and Distinctions
Microbiology, structural biology, ultra-structure, cytoskeleton, motility, nano-organelles
My laboratory uses high-resolution light and electron microscopy to study the structure, dynamics, and functions of important bacterial subcellular complexes to determine how they contribute to cellular organization.
Recent advances in high-resolution microscopy, bioinformatics, and structural determination have resulted in a fundamental reassessment of bacterial cell organization. Once perceived as simple and unorganized, in recent years bacteria have become appreciated for possessing structural, spatial, and temporal organizations that rival that of eukaryotic cells. Through an approach that couples advanced microscopy with classical genetics, biochemistry, and cell physiology, we aim at understanding how this complex organization is achieved and maintained in cells. Two different experimental approaches are used to accomplish this goal. The first approach relies on the fractionation of cells to discover, isolate, and characterize novel sub-cellular complexes and organelles that form the elementary building blocks of bacterial cells, while the second approach uses live imaging techniques, electron tomography, and genetic studies to study the function and dynamics of these structures in the context of living cells.
For most of our work, we use the predatory soil bacterium Myxococcus xanthus as model organism. M. xanthus is highly social and forms large multicellular swarms that cooperatively feed on organic matter, including other bacterial cells, which are digested through the secretion of lytic enzymes [Fig. 1]. With a nearly 10 MB genome containing 7500 ORFs and a complex life-cycle that includes cellular differentiation, M. xanthus offers excellent opportunities to study bacterial cellular organization on a cellular level, and the contributions of the organelles to cellular differentiation processes and multicellular behaviours. To complement these studies we occasionally use additional prokaryotic organisms, including cyanobacteria and archaea that help validate and expand our findings in myxobacteria.
Figure 1: The social soil bacterium Myxococcus xanthus is characterized by a complex life cycle. Vegetative cells grow and divide until starvation leads to the aggregation of about 105 cells, which form small haystack-shaped mounds that eventually develop into mature macroscopic fruiting bodies. During this process about 20% of the aggregated cells differentiate into myxospores, while 75% of the cells die, and 5% become peripheral rods, specialized cells that continue to search for food outside of the fruiting body. Exposure to nutrients will eventually result in the germination of the myxospores and re-emergence of vegetative cells forming swarms. Figure reproduced from Nat. Rev. Microbiol 2007 5: 862-872.
Currently, we are working in the laboratory on the following three cellular structures, focusing both on their structures and their functions, and potential interactions with each other:
1.) Novel bacterial cytoskeleton proteins
Level 2 Modules
Level 1 Modules
I welcome applications from self-funded prospective home and international PhD students; see examples of possible projects below.
You can apply for a PhD position in MBB here.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
- Zeth K, Hoiczyk E & Okuda M (2015) Ferroxidase-Mediated Iron Oxide Biomineralization: Novel Pathways to Multifunctional Nanoparticles.. Trends Biochem Sci.. View this article in WRRO
- Vassallo C, Pathak DT, Cao P, Zuckerman DM, Hoiczyk E & Wall D (2015) Cell rejuvenation and social behaviors promoted by LPS exchange in myxobacteria. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(22), E2939-E2946. View this article in WRRO
- Reed P, Atilano ML, Alves R, Hoiczyk E, Sher X, Reichmann RT, Pereira PM, Roemer T, Filipe SR, Pereira-Leal JB, Ligoxygakis P & Pinho MG (2015) Staphylococcus aureus Survives with a Minimal Peptidoglycan Synthesis Machine but Sacrifices Virulence and Antibiotic Resistance. PLoS Pathogens, 11(5). View this article in WRRO
- Zuckerman DM, Boucher LE, Xie K, Engelhardt H, Bosch J & Hoiczyk E (2015) The Bactofilin Cytoskeleton Protein BacM of Myxococcus xanthus Forms an Extended β-Sheet Structure Likely Mediated by Hydrophobic Interactions. PLOS ONE, 10(3), e0121074-e0121074. View this article in WRRO
- Holkenbrink C, Hoiczyk E, Kahnt J & Higgs PI (2014) Synthesis and Assembly of a Novel Glycan Layer in Myxococcus xanthus Spores. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 289(46), 32364-32378. View this article in WRRO
- McHugh CA, Fontana J, Nemecek D, Cheng N, Aksyuk AA, Heymann JB, Winkler DC, Lam AS, Wall JS, Steven AC & Hoiczyk E (2014) A virus capsid‐like nanocompartment that stores iron and protects bacteria from oxidative stress. The EMBO Journal, 33(17), 1896-1911. View this article in WRRO
- Chen C, Zuckerman DM, Brantley S, Sharpe M, Childress K, Hoiczyk E & Pendleton AR (2014) Sambucus nigra extracts inhibit infectious bronchitis virus at an early point during replication. BMC Veterinary Research, 10(1), 24-24.
- Ren X, Hoiczyk E & Rasgon JL (2008) Viral Paratransgenesis in the Malaria Vector Anopheles gambiae. PLoS Pathogens, 4(8), e1000135-e1000135. View this article in WRRO
Conference proceedings papers
- Fontana J, Nemecek D, McHugh CA, Aksyuk AA, Cheng N, Winkler DC, Bernard Heymann J, Hoiczyk E & Steven AC (2014) Phage Capsid-like Structure of Myxococcus xanthus Encapsulin, a Protein Shell That Stores Iron. Microscopy and Microanalysis, Vol. 20(S3) (pp 1244-1245)