Vicki Jeffers

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Phone: (603) 862-2103
Office: UNH Molecular, Cellular, & Biomedical Sciences, Rudman Hall, Durham, NH 03824
Vicki Jeffers Profile Photo

The protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii is estimated to infect over 2 billion people worldwide, including approximately 20% of Americans. This highly prevalent parasite is adept at establishing a long-term chronic infection that can reactivate to cause serious acute disease in immunocompromised or pregnant people. Although there are some limited treatments available to treat this acute stage of the infection, these therapies often cause toxic side effects, or allergic reactions and can be unsuitable for use in vulnerable patients. Furthermore, the chronic stage of the parasite is currently incurable.

The goal of the Jeffers lab is to understand how the parasite activates or “switches on” gene expression to drive parasite growth and transition in its life cycle and cause disease. This complex process is influenced by a variety of factors, but we are currently interested in epigenetic mechanisms of control, specifically the contribution of bromodomain proteins. These proteins “read” gene activation marks on the chromatin to recruit other complexes that regulate transcription. Determining the role of the bromodomains in regulating Toxoplasma gene expression is not only a fascinating biological question but could also contribute to the development of more effective anti-parasitic drugs. We are now extending our interests in parasite gene expression to investigate precisely how the bromodomain proteins directly regulate the transcriptional initiation machinery and the factors that are necessary to activate a gene. We use an array of genomic, proteomic, molecular and cellular biology approaches to answer these questions.

Education

  • D, Heidelberg College

Research Interests

  • Antimicrobials
  • Cellular Biology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Epigenetics
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Regulation
  • Genetic Manipulation
  • Infectious Diseases/Agents
  • Microbes
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Parasitology
  • Pathogenesis
  • Transcription

Courses Taught

  • BMS 655: Human and Animal Parasites
  • BMS 799H: Senior Honors Thesis
  • GEN 717/817: Molecular Microbiology
  • INCO 590: Rsrch Exp/MCBS
  • INCO 790: Adv Rsrch Exp/MCBS

Selected Publications

Weiss, L. M., Wastling, J., Jeffers, V., Sullivan, W. J., & Kim, K. (2020). Proteomics and posttranslational protein modifications in Toxoplasma gondii. In Toxoplasma gondii (pp. 983-1020). Elsevier. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-815041-2.00022-0

Kim, K., Jeffers, V., & Sullivan, W. J. (2020). Regulation of gene expression in Toxoplasma gondii. In Toxoplasma gondii (pp. 941-982). Elsevier. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-815041-2.00021-9

Harris, M. T., Jeffers, V., Martynowicz, J., True, J. D., Mosley, A. L., & Sullivan, W. J. (2019). A novel GCN5b lysine acetyltransferase complex associates with distinct transcription factors in the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 232, 111203. doi:10.1016/j.molbiopara.2019.111203

Jeffers, V., Tampaki, Z., Kim, K., & Sullivan, W. J. (2018). A latent ability to persist: differentiation in Toxoplasma gondii. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 75(13), 2355-2373. doi:10.1007/s00018-018-2808-x

Jeffers, V., Yang, C., Huang, S., & Sullivan, W. J. (2017). Bromodomains in Protozoan Parasites: Evolution, Function, and Opportunities for Drug Development. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews, 81(1). doi:10.1128/mmbr.00047-16

Miao, J., Lawrence, M., Jeffers, V., Zhao, F., Parker, D., Ge, Y., . . . Cui, L. (2013). Extensive lysine acetylation occurs in evolutionarily conserved metabolic pathways and parasite-specific functions duringPlasmodium falciparumintraerythrocytic development. Molecular Microbiology, 89(4), 660-675. doi:10.1111/mmi.12303

Xue, B., Jeffers, V., Sullivan, W. J., & Uversky, V. N. (2013). Protein intrinsic disorder in the acetylome of intracellular and extracellular Toxoplasma gondii. Molecular BioSystems, 9(4), 645. doi:10.1039/c3mb25517d

Jeffers, V., & Sullivan, W. J. (2012). Lysine Acetylation Is Widespread on Proteins of Diverse Function and Localization in the Protozoan Parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Eukaryotic Cell, 11(6), 735-742. doi:10.1128/ec.00088-12

Sullivan, W. J., & Jeffers, V. (2012). Mechanisms ofToxoplasma gondiipersistence and latency. FEMS Microbiology Reviews, 36(3), 717-733. doi:10.1111/j.1574-6976.2011.00305.x

Wang, J., Dixon, S. E., Ting, L. -M., Liu, T. -K., Jeffers, V., Croken, M. M., . . . Sullivan, W. J. (n.d.). Lysine Acetyltransferase GCN5b Interacts with AP2 Factors and Is Required for Toxoplasma gondii Proliferation. PLoS Pathogens, 10(1), e1003830. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003830

Most Cited Publications