Chem Bio Seminar – Prof. Yftah Tal-Gan (University of Nevada-Reno)

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1315 Seminar Hall
@ 3:30 pm

Title: Development of Peptide-Based Tools to Study Cell-Cell Communication in Bacteria


Professor Yftah Tal-Gan received his B.S. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He then worked on his M.S. and Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in the groups of Professor Chaim Gilon and Professor Alexander Levitzki. His doctoral dissertation was on the development of new peptide-based inhibitors of Protein Kinase B (PKB/Akt) as potential drugs for Cancer. Upon completion of his Ph.D. work, Yftah joined the laboratory of Professor Helen Blackwell at University of Wisconsin-Madison as a Postdoctoral Research Associate working on the development of peptide-based tools and materials to study quorum sensing in Staphylococcus aureus. Yftah joined the Department of Chemistry at University of Nevada, Reno as an Assistant Professor in 2014, was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2020, and to Professor in 2022. Yftah is the recipient of the 2020 University of Nevada, Reno Foundation Early Career Innovator Award, the 2020 American Peptide Society Early Career Lectureship Award, and the 2021 College of Science Hyung K. Shin Excellence in Research Award.


Quorum sensing (QS) is a ubiquitous process in bacteria that governs many important symbiotic and pathogenic phenotypes. As such, QS has attracted considerable attention as a means to control bacterial behaviors – attenuate undesired phenotypes, and promote productive processes. Many Gram-positive bacterial species utilize peptide pheromones to induce QS responses and initiate pathogenic phenotypes, such as competence, biofilm formation and virulence factor production. We investigate the molecular mechanisms that drive signal:receptor binding while interrogating the role of QS in the competition between bacterial species. To this end, we develop peptide-based QS modulators with distinct activity profiles (selective vs. pan-species modulators; inhibitors vs. activators) and utilize them to determine the effects of QS modulation in both single-species and mixed cultures.

Keywords: Bacterial Communication

Host: Prof. Helen Blackwell