Carla Uranga, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Carla Uranga, PhD joined the Department of Genomic Medicine at JCVI in 2018. Working in the oral microbiology group, Dr. Uranga’s research has focused on the metabolome and proteome of microorganisms, with an emphasis on the induction of secondary metabolism and the purification of specialized small molecules produced by microbes and their relation to disease or health.

Little is known about how microbes metabolize host substrates, and which specific host substrates are able to induce secondary metabolism in microbes. Understanding these microbial processes may provide insight into the maintenance of healthy vs. disease states in the mouth and inform efforts to develop effective oral probiotics for the prevention of periodontal disease. Dr. Uranga recently purified and identified enterobactin, a metallophore, from the oral commensal bacteria Rothia mucilaginosa. This is a novel finding, since enterobactin is normally attributed to gut pathogens, indicating a potential role for enterobactin in oral health. Recently, Dr. Uranga’s interests have shifted to the effects of small molecules from the human microbiome on the immune system.

In San Diego since age four, Dr. Uranga has a BS in Biochemistry from UC San Diego, and a doctorate in Biochemistry from CICESE (Centro de Investigación Científica y Educación Superior) as a UC Mexus fellow in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. Prior to joining JCVI, Dr. Uranga was at PaxVax, a vaccine development company working on developing purification methods for Zika and Chikungunya VLP vaccines for large-scale manufacturing.

Research Priorities

Bioprospection and characterization of primary and secondary metabolites from microbes in the human microbiome.
  • Identify factors in primary and secondary metabolite induction.
  • Evaluate physiological function(s) of metabolites.
Characterize the metabolome holistically of human oral microbes of interest and how they utilize host-derived substrates.
  • Assess the impact of human dietary sugars on human oral bacteria and their metabolism.
  • Organic acids are known to break down tooth enamel, currently little is known about which oral microorganisms produce which acids in healthy vs. disease oral environments.

Publications

Commensal Oral Rothia mucilaginosa Produces Enterobactin, a Metal-Chelating Siderophore.
mSystems. 2020-04-28; 5.2:
PMID: 32345739
Cryo-EM Structure of Chikungunya Virus in Complex with the Mxra8 Receptor.
Cell. 2019-06-13; 177.7: 1725-1737.e16.
PMID: 31080061
Data from proteome analysis of Lasiodiplodia theobromae (Botryosphaeriaceae).
Data in brief. 2017-08-01; 13.124-128.
PMID: 28580409
Novel proteins from proteomic analysis of the trunk disease fungus Lasiodiplodia theobromae (Botryosphaeriaceae).
Biochimie open. 2017-06-01; 4.88-98.
PMID: 29450146
Data from mass spectrometry, NMR spectra, GC-MS of fatty acid esters produced by Lasiodiplodia theobromae.
Data in brief. 2016-09-01; 8.31-9.
PMID: 27274528
Rational design of artificial zinc-finger proteins using a nondegenerate recognition code table.
Biochemistry. 2002-06-04; 41.22: 7074-81.
PMID: 12033941
Autopsy studies of the occurrence of cancerous, atypical and benign epithelial lesions in the female breast.
APMIS. Supplementum. 1989-01-01; 10.1-56.
PMID: 2692656

Research Priorities

Bioprospection and characterization of primary and secondary metabolites from microbes in the human microbiome.
  • Identify factors in primary and secondary metabolite induction.
  • Evaluate physiological function(s) of metabolites.
Characterize the metabolome holistically of human oral microbes of interest and how they utilize host-derived substrates.
  • Assess the impact of human dietary sugars on human oral bacteria and their metabolism.
  • Organic acids are known to break down tooth enamel, currently little is known about which oral microorganisms produce which acids in healthy vs. disease oral environments.