Ongoing Research

Sus Figure no locus2.png

Rebecca’s research interests are in elucidating the molecular function of human gut bacteria with a primary focus on how the microbiota interacts with nutrients and drugs.
Her current research focuses on the Bacteroidetes, a Phylum of Gram negative bacteria found in aquatic, terrestrial, and host-associated environments including the human gut. These bacteria encode large numbers of carbohydrate-active enzymes to consume glycans from our their environment, including fiber from our diet. These enzymes are encoded within Polysaccharide Utilization Loci (PUL) that also encode genes for cell-surface proteins to bind and import glycans. The prototypical protein complex encoded with a PUL is the Starch Utilization System (Sus) of Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron. Within Sus, the protein responsible for import of starch is called SusC and is hypothesized to be a TonB-depending transporter. Rebecca’s research focuses on the function of SusC and she is currently investigating pairing with TonB.

Rebecca is trained as a biochemist and x-ray protein cryptographer. These skills are particularly useful in characterizing carbohydrate-active enzymes similar to the SusD-G proteins. Membrane proteins such as SusC and TonB are more difficult to work with and therefore, Rebecca has taken a bacterial genetics approach to enhance understanding of those aspects of the complex.

Mentored Students

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Rohini Bahethi
, January 2015-May 2016
Kristen Segars, January 2015-May 2016
Loraine Christanson, November 2015-November 2016, continued to lab technician position
Emma D’Agostino, August 2014-May 2016, currently in PhD program at Emory University
Erin Moore, August 2014-May 2015
James Ingle, January 2012-May 2015, continued to lab technician position
Jeffrey Hymes, January 2012-May 2014, continued to Master’s program, currently working as research scientist

University of Michigan

Sameeksha Venkatesh
, September 2017-present
Cameron Russell, September 2018-April 2019
Adeline Morris, September 2018-April 2019, currently working in Koropatkin lab with another postdoc 
Anna DeVeaux, September 2017-June 2018, currently working in Koropatkin lab with another postdoc 


Publication List

Cerqueira FM, Photenhauer AL, Pollet RM, Brown HA, Koropatkin NM. Dietary starch metabolism by the human gut microbiota. Trends in Microbiology. Under review.

Doden H, Pollet RM, Mythen SM, Wawrzak Z, Devendran S, Cann I, Koropatkin NM, Ridlon JM. Structural and Biochemical Characterization of 20-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase from Bifidobacterium adolescentis strain L2-32. Journal of Biological Chemistry. In Press.

Pollet RM, D’Agostino EH, Walton WG, Xu Y, Little M, Biernat KA, Pellock SJ, Patterson LM, Creekmore BC, Isenberg HN, Bahethi RR, Bhatt AP, Liu J, Gharaibeh RZ, Redinbo MR. An Atlas of β-glucuronidases in the Human Intestinal Microbiome. Structure. 2017 July 5; 25(7):967-977. PMID: 28578872.

Pollet RM, Ingle JD, Hymes JP, Eakes TC, Yui Eto K, Kwong SM, Ramsay JP, Firth N, Redinbo MR. Processing of Non-Conjugative Resistance Plasmids by Conjugation Nicking Enzyme of Staphylococci. Journal of Bacteriology. 2015 Mar; 198(6):888-897. PMID: 26728193.

Wallace BD, Roberts AB, Pollet RM, Ingle JD, Biernat KA, Pellock SJ, Venkatesh MK, Guthrie L, O’Neal SK, Robinson SJ, Dollinger M, Figueroa E, McShane SR, Cohen RD, Jin J, Frye SV, Zamboni WC, Pepe-Ranney C, Mani S, Kelly L, Redinbo MR. Structure and Inhibition of Microbiome β-Glucuronidases Essential to the Alleviation of Cancer Drug Toxicity. Chemistry and Biology. 2015 Sept 17; 22(9):1238-1249. PMID: 26364932.

Hughes R, Lamb KN, Freeman DJ, Smith W, Smith J, Pollet RM, Lawrence DS. Optogenetic Apoptosis: Light-Triggered Cell Death. Angewandte Chemie. 2015 Oct 5; 54 (41): 12064-12068. PMID: 26418181.

Wallace BD, Betts L, Talmage G, Pollet RM, Holman NS, Redinbo MR. Structural and Functional Analysis of the Human Nuclear Xenobiotic Receptor PXR in Complex with RXRα. Journal of Molecular Biology. 2013 Jul 24; 425(14):2561-77. PMID: 23602807.

Edwards JS, Betts L, Frazier ML, Pollet RM, Kwong SM, Walton WG, Ballentine III WK, Huang JJ, Habibi S, Del Campo M, Meier JL, Dervan PB, Firth V, Redinbo MR. Molecular basis of antibiotic multiresistance transfer in Staphylococcus aureus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2013 Feb 19; 110(8):2804-9. PMID: 23359708.

Bedford R, LePage D, Hoffmann R, Kennedy S, Gutschenritter T, Bull L, Sujijantarat N, DiCesare JC, Sheaff RJ. Luciferase inhibition by a novel naphthoquinone. Journal of photochemistry and photobiology. B, Biology. 2012 Feb. 6; 107 (2012): 55-64. PMID: 22197716.