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Microbiology & Cell Science

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Kelly Rice

Assistant Professor Rice

Department of Microbiology and Cell Science University of Florida

Ph.D. (2001) University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Post-doctoral training (2001-2005) University of Idaho, Moscow, ID
Instructor (2005-2008) University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE

Contact Information


Teaching Interests

Bacterial and Viral Pathogens (MCB4203), Advanced Microbiology Lab (MCB4034L), Undergraduate Research

Description of Research

My research program focuses on aspects of bacterial physiology and cell communication that contribute to biofilm development of pathogenic Gram-positive bacteria. Specific research projects currently under investigation include:

1. Determining the contributions of endogenous nitric oxide (NO) to biofilm, physiology and cell-signaling in Staphylococcus aureus. NO is a free-radical gas that has been well-characterized as a signaling molecule in eukaryotes, and more recently, a role for this versatile molecule in regulating bacterial physiology and biofilm development has also been recognized. Our research is focused on dissecting the pathways of endogenous NO production and consumption in Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA and MRSA), a notorious pathogen that causes a wide variety of serious infections in mammals. This work also seeks to identify the upstream regulators and downstream cellular targets of endogenously-produced NO, and to determine how these processes relate to biofilm development.

2. Characterizing the role and regulation of cell death in Streptococcus mutans biofilms. The cid and lrg operons encode membrane proteins that have been shown to be involved in cell death and lysis regulation in several bacteria. Our research focuses on the Cid/Lrg system of Streptococcus mutans, the primary causative agent of dental caries. There appear to be distinct differences in the organization and regulation of S. mutans cid and lrg compared to what is known in other organisms, and some of these genes affect S. mutans virulence traits such as oxidative stress resistance, competence, and biofilm formation. A better understanding of how cid and lrg specificallycontribute to these virulence phenotypes may allow the development of new anti-caries strategies. This research is conducted in collaboration with Dr. Sang-Joon Ahn, Research Assistant Professor, Dept. Oral Biology, UF.

3. Investigating microgravity effects on S. mutans physiology, gene expression, and biofilm development. The health of astronauts during space flight is of paramount concern, as various detrimental health effects resulting from exposure to microgravity conditions have been documented. In fact, simulated microgravity exposure has been shown by others to cause increased mandibular and alveolar bone loss and decreased saliva flow, two host factors that could predispose astronauts to caries and/or periodontal disease. Although the host response to microgravity has been well-studied, the response of cariogenic bacteria such as S. mutans has not been rigorously assessed. Therefore we are studying the response of S. mutans physiology, biofilm formation and global gene expression to simulated microgravity conditions.

*Selected Peer-reviewed Publications (out of 24 total):

  1. Chen, F., Jia, Z., Rice, K.C., Reinhardt, R.A., Bayles, K.W., and Wang, D. 2014. The Development of Drug-Free Therapy for Prevention of Dental Caries. Pharmaceutical Research. DOI 10.1007/s11095-014-1396-1. PMID: 24831311
  2. Ahn, S.J, Qu, M.D., Roberts, E., Burne, R.A., and Rice, K.C. 2012. Identification of the Streptococcus mutans LytST two-component regulon reveals its contribution to oxidative stress tolerance. BMC Microbiology. 12(1):187-199. PMID: 22937869.
  3. Beenkan, K.E., Mrak, L., Griffin, L.M., Zielinska, A., Shaw, L.N., Rice, K.C., Horswill, A.R., Bayles, K.W., and Smeltzer, M.S. 2010. Epistatic relationships between sarA and agr in Staphylococcus aureus biofilm formation. PLoS ONE 5 (5): e10790. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010790. PMID: 20520723.
  4. Ahn, S.J., Rice, K.C., Oleas, J., Bayles, K.W., and R.A. Burne. 2010. The Streptococcus mutans Cid and Lrg Systems Modulate Virulence Traits in Response to Multiple Environmental Signals. Microbiology: 156: 3136-47. PMID: 20671018.
  5. Rice, K., Peralta, R., Bast, D., de Azavedo, J., and M.J. McGavin. 2001. Description of the staphylococcus serine protease (ssp) operon in Staphylococcus aureus, and non-polar inactivation of the sspA serine protease. Infect. Immun. 69: 159-169.
  6. Moormeier, D.E., Endres, J.L., Mann, E.E., Sadykov, M.R., Horswill, A.R., Rice, K.C., Fey, P.D., and Bayles, K.W. 2013. Use of Microfluidic Technology To Analyze Gene Expression during Staphylococcus aureus Biofilm Formation Reveals Distinct Physiological Niches. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 79: 3413-3424. PMID: 23524683.
  7. Chen, F., Jia, Z., Rice, K.C., Reinhardt, R.A., Bayles, K.W., and Wang, D. 2013. The Development of Dentotropic Micelles with Biodegradable Tooth-Binding Moieties. Pharmaceutical Research. 30: 2808-17. PMID: , PMCID: In progress
  8. Chen, F., Rice, K.C., Liu, X-M., Reinhardt, R.A., Bayles, K.W., and D. Wang. 2010. Triclosan-loaded Tooth-binding Micelles for Prevention and Treatment of Dental Biofilm. Pharmaceutical Research. DOI 10.1007/s11095-010-0119-5. PMID: 20387099
  9. Mann, E. E., Rice, K.C., Boles, B.L., Endres, J.L., Ranjit, D., Chandramohan, L., Tsang, L.H., Smeltzer,   M.S., Horswill, A.R., and K.W. Bayles. 2009. Modulation of eDNA release and degradation affects Staphylococcus aureus biofilm maturation. PLoS ONE 4(6): e5822. PMID: 19513119.
  10. Rice, K.C. and K.W. Bayles. 2008. Molecular control of bacterial death and lysis (review). Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews. 72: 85-109. PMID: 18322035
  11. Rice, K.C., Mann, E.E., Endres, J.L., Weiss, E.C., Cassat, J.E., Smeltzer, M.S., and K.W. Bayles. 2007. The cidA murein hydrolase regulator contributes to DNA release and biofilm development in Staphylococcus aureus. PNAS. 104: 8113-8118. PMID: 17452642
  12. Cassat, J., Dunman, P.M., Murphy, E.J., Projan, S.J., Beenken, K.E., Palm, K.J., Yang, S.J., Rice, K.C., Bayles, K.W., and M.S. Smeltzer. 2006. Transcriptional profiling of a Staphylococcus aureus clinical isolate and its isogenic agr and sarA mutants reveals global differences in comparison to the laboratory strain RN6390. Microbiol. 152: 3075-3090. PMID: 17005987
  13. Rice, K.C., Nelson, J.B., Patton, T.G., Yang, S.J., and K.W. Bayles. 2005. Acetic acid induces expression of the Staphylococcus aureus cidABC and lrgAB murein hydrolase regulator operons. J. Bacteriol. 187: 813-821. PMID: 15659658
  14. Patton, T.G., Rice, K.C., Foster, M.K., and K.W. Bayles. 2005. The Staphylococcus aureus cidC gene encodes a pyruvate oxidase that affects acetate metabolism and cell death in stationary phase. Mol. Microbiol. 56: 1664-1674. PMID: 15916614
  15. Rice, K., Huesca, M., Vaz, D., and M.J. McGavin. 2001. Variance in fibronectin-binding and fnb gene locus polymorphisms in Staphylococcus aureus: Identification of antigenic variation in a fibronectin-binding protein adhesin of the epidemic CMRSA-1 strain of methicillin resistant S. aureus. Infect. Immun. 69: 3791-3799.

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