Sullivan Lab

The research lab of Bill Sullivan, PhD studies cellular signaling and the regulation of gene expression in a protozoan parasites Plasmodium (malaria) called Toxoplasma. Transmitted by cats and contaminated food/water, Toxoplasma causes congenital birth defects as well as opportunistic infection in immune compromised patients.

Emerging evidence suggests that this parasitic infection may also be linked to neurological disorders, such as schizophrenia and behavior modification. While the acute stage of toxoplasmosis is treatable, the ability of the parasite to convert into latent tissue cysts prevents eradication of the infection from the patient. Unfortunately, if immunity wanes, the patient can relapse and suffer additional episodes of life-threatening acute infection.

Transmitted by the mosquito, malaria remains a devastating infection in many parts of the world due to rapidly spreading drug-resistance. New drugs and drug targets are urgently needed to combat these infectious diseases.

Active Research

The Sullivan Laboratory uses state-of-the-art molecular, cellular, and biochemical techniques to investigate the proteins that signal and orchestrate parasite gene expression at epigenetic, transcriptional, and translational levels. The laboratory has discovered several new drug candidates that interfere with these critical processes in the parasites. More information is available on the Sullivan Laboratory website.

Research Funding

“The GCN5b acetylation complex in the AIDS pathogen Toxoplasma”
NIH R01 AI116496 (PI: William Sullivan)

“Translational control during stage conversion of Toxoplasma, an opportunistic infection of HIV/AIDS”
NIH R01 AI124723 (MPI: William Sullivan/Ronald Wek)

“Elucidating new and old roles for autophagy-like proteins in Toxoplasma gondii”
NIH R21 AI125822 (MPI: William Sullivan/Gustavo Arrizabalaga)

“Developmental switches regulating tissue cyst formation”
NIH R01 AI124682 (PI: Michael White; Subcontract: William Sullivan)

“Novel components of Homologous Recombination Repair in the parasite Toxoplasma gondii”
NIH R01 AI129807 (PI: Sergio Angel; Subcontract: William Sullivan)

Recent Publications

A full list of Bill Sullivan, PhD‘s publication history is available on PubMed.

Holmes MJ, Augusto LDS, Zhang M, Wek RC, Sullivan WJ Jr. (2017) “Translational Control in the Latency of Apicomplexan Parasites”
Trends Parasitol. pii: S1471-4922(17)30211-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pt.2017.08.006. [Epub ahead of print] Review.
PMID: 28942109

Colinot DL, Garbuz T, Bosland MC, Wang L, Rice SE, Sullivan WJ Jr, Arrizabalaga G, Jerde TJ. (2017) “The common parasite Toxoplasma gondii induces prostatic inflammation and microglandular hyperplasia in a mouse model.”
Prostate. 2017 May 12. doi: 10.1002/pros.23362. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 28497488

Huang S, Holmes MJ, Radke JB, Hong DP, Liu TK, White MW, Sullivan WJ Jr (2017) “Toxoplasma gondii AP2IX-4 regulates gene expression during bradyzoite development”
mSphere. 2017 Mar 15;2(2). pii: e00054-17. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00054-17.
PMID: 28317026

Jeffers V, Kamau ET, Srinivasan AR, Harper J, Sankaran P, Post SE, Varberg JM, Sullivan WJ Jr, Boyle JP. (2017). “TgPRELID, a Mitochondrial Protein Linked to Multidrug Resistance in the Parasite Toxoplasma gondii.”
mSphere. 2017 Feb 1;2(1). pii: e00229-16. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00229-16.
PMID: 28168222
FEATURED ON COVER.

Jeffers V, Yang C, Huang S, Sullivan WJ Jr. (2017) “Bromodomains in Protozoan Parasites: Evolution, Function, and Opportunities for Drug Development.”
Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 81(1). pii: e00047-16. doi: 10.1128/MMBR.00047-16. Review.
PMID: 28077462

Padgett LR, Arrizabalaga G, Sullivan WJ Jr. (2017) “Targeting of tail-anchored membrane proteins to subcellular organelles in Toxoplasma gondii.”
Traffic. doi: 10.1111/tra.12464. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 27991712

Varberg JM, Padgett LR, Arrizabalaga G, Sullivan WJ Jr. (2016) “TgATAT-Mediated α-Tubulin Acetylation Is Required for Division of the Protozoan ParasiteToxoplasma gondii”. mSphere. 1(1)
FEATURED ON COVER.

Benmerzouga I, Checkley LA, Ferdig MT, Arrizabalaga G, Wek RC, Sullivan WJ Jr. (2015) Guanabenz repurposed as an anti-parasitic with activity against acute and latent toxoplasmosis. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 59(11):6939-45.
PMID: 26303803
PRESS RELEASE.
Featured in THE SCIENTIST and FIERCE BIOTECH RESEARCH.

Herman J, Pepper LR, Cortese JF, Estiu G, Galinsky K, Zuzarte-Luis V, Deryshire ER, Ribacke U, Lukens AK, Santos SA, Patel V, Clish CB, Sullivan Jr WJ, Zhou H, Bopp SE, Schimmel P, Lindquist S, Clardy J, Mota MM, Keller TL, Whitman M, Wiest O, Wirth DF, Mazitschek R. (2015) The cytoplasmic prolyl-tRNA synthetase of the malaria parasite is a dual-stage target of febrifugine and its analogs. Sci Tranl Med. 7(288): p.288ra77.

Bouchut A, Chawla AR, Jeffers V, Hudmon A, Sullivan WJ Jr. Proteome-Wide Lysine Acetylation in Cortical Astrocytes and Alterations That Occur during Infection with Brain Parasite Toxoplasma gondii. PLOS ONE. 2015 Mar 18;10(3):e0117966. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0117966. eCollection 2015.
PMID: 25786129
PRESS RELEASE. Featured on IFLScience.
Included in the PLOS ONE Editor’s Pick’s Collection Microbiology.

Faculty Research Team

Michael Holmes, PhD

Michael Holmes, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow in Pharmacology & Toxicology
Victoria Jeffers, PhD

Victoria Jeffers, PhD

Assistant Research Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology
Sandeep Srivastava, PHD

Sandeep Srivastava, PHD

Postdoctoral Fellow in Pharmacology & Toxicology
Min Zhang, PhD

Min Zhang, PhD

Adjunct Assistant Research Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology

Additional Research Team Members

Other research team members in the Sullivan Lab include Jennifer Martynowicz (MD/PhD student) and Jocelyne Hanquier (MS student)