Sadia Sultana


Graduate Student


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Creation Date

Spring 2023


We all have experienced a bacterial infection at some point in our life. Whenever pathogens enter our body, neutrophils are activated as part of the innate immune response. These immune cells kill the invading bugs by exposing them to a highly toxic antimicrobial cocktail. Among these neutrophilic antimicrobials is hypochlorous acid, which is also found as the active ingredient in household bleach. Bleach kills pathogens very efficiently through extensive cellular damage. I found that uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC), the major culprits of urinary tract infections, is significantly more resistant to bleach and neutrophil-mediated killing compared to Escherichia coli pathotypes from the gut (illustrated here). I identified the defense system responsible for these phenotypes, although its precise mechanism of action is still unknown. Using biochemical and molecular approaches, my goal is now to decipher how this system contributes to UPEC’s increased bleach-tolerance. The illustration was created with BioRender.