George Chaconas

Full Member

George Chaconas

George Chaconas

Title 

Professor, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Immunology & Infectious Diseases

Contact Information:

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Microgiology, Immunology & Infectious Diseases (MIID)

Address: 2C62 Health Research Innovation Centre

Phone: (403) 210-9692

Fax: (403) 270-2772

Email:  chaconas@ucalgary.ca

 

Curriculum Vitae:

PhD University of Calgary, 1978

Post-doctoral Studies Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory, 1978-1981

Faculty Member University of Western Ontario, 1981-2002

Sabbatical NIH Rocky Mountain Laboratories, 1999-2000

 

Potential Graduate Supervisor

George Chaconas, Ph.D.
George Chaconas, Ph.D.
George Chaconas, Ph.D.

Research

Lyme borreliosis (Lyme disease) is the most common vector transmitted disease in the northern hemisphere. It is caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi and other Borrelia species. The disease is typically transmitted from infected mice to humans by a bite from an infected tick. If not properly diagnosed and treated, Lyme disease can be severely debilitating and may result in arthritis, neurological symptoms, heart abnormalities and a variety of other problems. Global warming is promoting the expansion of areas where infected ticks and Lyme borreliosis is found.  

Borrelia burgdorferi is a fascinating organism with a variety of intriguing features. Our studies focus on several aspects of the biology of Borrelia burgdorferi:

1) Antigenic variation – By constantly changing the sequence of a surface-bound liopoprotein, VlsE, B. burgdorferi can stay one step of the host immune system and outrun the acquired immune response. This escape in immune-surveillance results in persistent infection of the host. The antigenic variation process is driven by gene conversion events at the vlsE locus, molecular details governing antigenic variation remain unknown and are under investigation in the lab.

2)  Global gene regulation by the HrpA helicase – Global gene regulation is an important feature in the B. burgdorferi life cycle. The expression of about 150 genes is regulated as the spirochete transitions from the tick vector to the vertebrate host. We have shown that one of the global regulatory pathways involves the HrpA RNA helicase. Infection cannot occur in the absence of HrpA. Moreover, while many bacteria have multiple RNA helicases, B. burgdorferi encodes only the HrpA RNA helicase, making Borrelia a good model system for functional studies on HrpA.

3) B. burgdorferi dissemination – Lyme spirochetes can enter the host vasculature and ride for free throughout the body, exiting at diverse locations to cause a variety of problems. The process of dissemination is complex and poorly understood. In collaboration with the labs of Jenifer Coburn (Medical College of Wisconsin) and John Leong (Tufts University) we are studying this important problem. Our intravital microscopic analysis has revealed important new information and is the first high resolution imaging of spirochetes at work in a living mammalian host (see video links).     

We use a wide variety of methodologies to study the above problems, including genomics, proteomics, molecular biology, genetics, next generation sequencing, nucleic acid biochemistry, protein biochemistry, structural biology and intravital microscopy. 

Research Downloads

People

Genevieve Chaconas

Genevieve Chaconas

Genevieve Chaconas

Email: gchaconas@ucalgary.ca

Mildred Castellanos

Mildred Castellenos

Mildred Castellanos

Email: mcescami@ucalgary.ca

Xi (Tracy) Tan

Xi (Tracy) Tan

Xi (Tracy) Tan

Email: xi.tan@ucalgary.ca

Madeleine Goldstein

Madeleine Goldstein

Madeleine Goldstein

Email: madeleine.goldstein@ucalgary.ca

Shiva Abolhosseini

Shiva Abolhosseini

Shiva Abolhosseini

Email: shiva.abolhosseini@ucalgary.ca

Daiana Alvarez Olmeda

Daiana Alvarez Olmedo

Daiana Alvarez Olmedo

Email: daiana.alvarezolmedo@ucalgary.ca