Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)


Biomedical Sciences

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

James Russell Hayman

Committee Members

Patrick Bradshaw, Jennifer Vanover Hall, Christopher L. Pritchett, Antonio E. Rusinol


Microsporidia are a distant fungal pathogen that have severe clinical consequences for the immunocompromised. Previous work identified a microsporidian pathogen protein termed Microsporidian ADAM or MADAM. This protein has close sequence homology to other ADAM proteins (A Disintegrin and Metalloproteinase) in two microsporidian species, Encephalitozoon intestinalis and E. cuniculi. ADAM proteins have a wide range of functions, including binding to integrins and host signaling. It is known that many pathogens manipulate integrins to invade host cells, and it is predicted that microsporidia are also exploiting this host target. Previous work with the MADAM protein demonstrated that this protein has a role in adherence to host cells. Separate work showed integrin inhibitors can also decrease spore adherence to cells. Experiments in this project complement previous research and further characterize the binding of microsporidia to host integrins and the intracellular consequences of that binding. This work found the integrin binding sequence of MADAM (MADAM peptide) is important for spore binding to host cells. Separate work shows that the host β1 integrin is also involved in spore adherence. Additional work demonstrated that spores and the MADAM peptide elicited an increase in host integrin signaling in Western blotting experiments. And finally, preliminary acellular interferometry experiments suggest the MADAM protein binds specifically to α5β1 and α6β4 integrins. Together, these results suggest microsporidia spores rely, in part, on host integrins to bind to host cells before infection.

Document Type

Dissertation - embargo


Copyright by the authors.

Available for download on Sunday, September 15, 2024