Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Public Health (M.S.P.H.)

Degree Granting Department

Global Health

Major Professor

Dennis Kyle, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas Unnasch, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Patricia Maher, Ph.D.


Molecular Cloning, Transposon, Electroporation, Drug Screening


Naegleria fowleri is a free-living amoeba that causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). In the United States, there are between 0-8 cases of PAM per year, with approximately 98% of cases resulting in death. High case fatality and limited treatment options highlight the need for better understanding of this organism in terms of its biology and pathogenicity. Transfection is a useful tool that allows for the study of gene function, but at present no transfection systems have been established for N. fowleri. This study attempts to establish a transfection system for N. fowleri using the piggyBac vector, with the hope of eventually using the piggyBac transposon system to identify novel genes related to pathogenicity in N. fowleri. To accomplish this, 5’ and 3’ regulatory regions for genes in the N. fowleri genome were amplified and inserted into a piggyBac vector with a GFP reporter gene via molecular cloning, and vectors introduced to the amoeba via electroporation. Although no GFP was visualized after transfection, there are several routes for optimization of the transfection system that could be explored. Development of a transfection system could allow for the study of pathogenicity in vivo, by either utilizing the transposon system of piggyBac or the expression of reporter genes for visualization of amoeba during the course of infection. Further elucidating N. fowleri pathogenicity factors could reveal new drug targets, give new information about the organism’s biology, and help better define an effective treatment regimen to combat PAM.

Included in

Public Health Commons