Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Microbiology & Immunology

First Advisor

Kimberly K. Jefferson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Cynthia N. Cornelissen, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Zhibing Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.


Preterm birth, defined at birth before 37 weeks gestation, affects millions of newborns worldwide every year. Preterm birth is a leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality. One major cause of preterm birth is preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM), which can be triggered by bacterial infection and inflammation. A bacterial species that has been implicated in preterm birth and other obstetric complications is Sneathia amnii. The goals of this study were to observe cytopathogenic effects caused by S. amnii strain Sn35 and identify putative virulence factors causing those effects. Sn35 was able to adhere to, invade, and damage/kill various host cell lines. We characterized these virulence attributes. A putative virulence determinant was identified, and a fragment of the protein was expressed for polyclonal antiserum production. Antiserum was used to characterize the expression and subcellular localization of the protein in Sn35. However, antiserum was unable to prevent cytopathogenic effects.


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