Award Date

May 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Life Sciences

First Committee Member

Helen Wing

Second Committee Member

Boo Shan Tseng

Third Committee Member

Eduardo Robleto

Fourth Committee Member

Ernesto Abel-Santos

Number of Pages



Nucleoid-structuring proteins (NSPs) in bacterial cells can exert gene regulatory effects over great distances on DNA. This contrasts with the traditional view of bacterial transcriptional regulation, where transcription factors bind cis-acting regulatory sites proximal (<250 bp) to promoters to influence gene expression. In Shigella species, the histone-like nucleoid-structuring protein (H-NS) transcriptionally silences many genes on the large (~220 kb) virulence plasmid. During host colonization, however, silencing by H-NS is alleviated by the anti-silencer protein, VirB, which remodels the H-NS:DNA complex. This transcriptional anti-silencing is mediated by VirB:DNA interactions and the modulation of DNA supercoiling, which lead to the up-regulation of virulence genes. VirB is a central regulator of Shigella virulence, but the mechanistic basis for transcriptional regulation is incompletely characterized. Here, I focus on the potential for VirB to regulate transcription from remotely located DNA binding sites. Employing complementary in vivo approaches, I assessed the spatial stringency of the VirB binding site and elucidated how varying cellular VirB levels impacts regulation over different distances. I also evaluated how a molecular roadblock on DNA influences remote regulation by VirB. Additionally, I developed control tools to validate the ability of VirB to spread along DNA, an activity of VirB that putatively drives transcriptional regulation. These data are consistent with transcriptional anti-silencing being driven by VirB spreading along DNA. Overall, these findings highlight how VirB is not a conventional transcriptional regulator and broaden our perspective on transcriptional control in bacteria. Furthermore, this work contributes to our understanding of long-range gene regulatory effects, which are frequently overlooked and poorly characterized in bacteria.


Chromosome remodeling; Histone-like nucleoid-structuring protein; Remote regulation; Transcriptional anti-silencing; Transcriptional regulator; Transcriptional silencing


Biology | Microbiology | Molecular Biology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2026