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Hansen's Disease Research

Diana L. Williams

Dr. Diana L. Williams image.

Senior Molecular Biologist
Ph.D. 1986
School of Veterinary Medicine
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA
Dwill21@lsu.edu

The focus of research in my laboratory is the study of the molecular pathogenesis of Mycobacterium leprae. This research has lead to the elucidation of molecular mechanisms of drug resistance of M. leprae and the development of assays for rapid detection of M. leprae and its susceptibility to dapsone and rifampin directly from biological specimens. These assays are utilized by the NHDP to provide information which can improve patient care.

Our research currently involves the study of M. leprae genomics and transcriptomics utilizing bioinformatics and surrogate genetics to better understand M. leprae's preference for its primary host cells (peripheral macrophages and Schwann cells of the peripheral nervous system) and its ability to survive and grow within these host cells. These studies have identified a mechanism for the defective heat shock response in this pathogen which appears to contribute to its preference for peripheral sites of infection. These studies have also demonstrated that not only does M. leprae have the largest number of pseudogenes in any bacterial genome it also has the largest number of transcribed pseudogenes documented to date. It is anticipated that results from this area of research will expand our knowledge of the molecular pathogenesis of M. leprae.

Representative Publications

Williams, D.L. Torrero, M., Wheeler, P.R., Truman, R.W., Yoder, M., Morrison, N., Bishai, W.R., and T.P. Gillis. 2004. Biological Implications of Mycobacterium leprae gene expression during infection. J Mol, Microbiol. Biotech. 8: 58-72.

Spencer, J.S., Kim, H.J., Marques, M.A.M., Williams, D.L., Martins, M.V.S.B., da Fonseca, M.L., Lima M.C.B.S., Pessolani, M.VC.V., Ottenhoff, T.H.M., Cho, S-N., Dockrell, H.M., and P.J. Brennan. 2005. IFN-γ responses of leprosy patients to unique Mycobacterium leprae proteins and peptides. J. Immun. 175:7930-38.

Monot M., Honore, N, Garnier, T, Araoz R, Coppee, JY, Lacroix, C, Sow S., Spencer, J., Truman, RW, Williams, D.L., Gelber, R., Virmond, M., Flageul, B, Cho, S.N., Ji, B., Vasques, I., Mondolfi, P,, Convit J., Young, S., Rasolofo, V., Brennan, P.J., and S. Cole. 2005. Origins of Leprosy. Science 308:1040-1042.

Adams, J.E., Pena, M. T., Gillis, T.P., Williams, D.L., Adams, L.B., and R. Truman. 2005. Expression of nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus Novemcinctus) Interleukin-2 in E. coli. Cytokine 32: 219-225.

Scollard, D.M., Adams, L.B. Gillis, T.P., Truman, R.W. and Williams, D.L. 2006. The continuing challenges of leprosy. Clin Microbiol. Reviews. 19:338-381.

Martinez, A., Lahiri R , Pittman T., Scollard, D., Truman R., Moraes M.O., Williams, D.L. 2009. Molecular Determination of Mycobacterium leprae Viability Using Real-Time PCR. J Clin Micro doi:10.1128/JCM.00512.

Williams D.L., Slayden, R.. Amin A., Martinez, A. N., Pittman, T., Mira A., Mitra, A., Nagaraja, V. Morrison, N., Moraes M. and T P. Gillis. 2009. Implications of high level pseudogene transcription in Mycobacterium leprae. BMC Genomics. 10:397.

Williams D.L., Pittman, P., Deshotel, M., Oby-Robinson, S., Smith, I., and Husson, R. 2007. Molecular
basis of the defective heat stress response in Mycobacterium leprae. J. Bacti 189:8818-27.

Williams, D.L. Torrero, M., Wheeler, P.R., Truman, R.W., Yoder, M., Morrison, N., Bishai, W.R., and T.P. Gillis. 2004. Biological Implications of Mycobacterium leprae gene expression during infection. J Mol, Microbiol. Biotech. 8: 58-72.

Spencer, J.S., Kim, H.J., Marques, M.A.M., Williams, D.L., Martins, M.V.S.B., da Fonseca, M.L., Lima M.C.B.S., Pessolani, M.VC.V., Ottenhoff, T.H.M., Cho, S-N., Dockrell, H.M., and P.J. Brennan. 2005. IFN-γ responses of leprosy patients to unique Mycobacterium leprae proteins and peptides. J. Immun. 175:7930-38.