Nicole Abreu
Nicole Abreu
Graduate Student | Komeili Lab
261 Koshland Hall
Berkeley, California 94720-3102
Phone 510.642.2140

I am conducting my research in the lab of Dr. Arash Komeili, where we are interested in how bacteria form and maintain their organelles.  The magnetic bacterium Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1 (AMB-1) is a model organism for studying bacterial organelles as it forms an organelle called the magnetosome.  From a cell biology perspective, this involves understanding processes such as membrane remodeling, protein sorting/localization, biomineralization and cellular organization of magnetosomes.  I am particularly interested in the cellular process of magnetosome organization, where I am currently using genetics, molecular biology and microscopy tools to evaluate the role of MamK, a bacterial actin, in this process.  Additionally, the discovery of a second bacterial actin in AMB-1 with high similarity to MamK called MamK-like led me to investigate whether it too plays a role in organelle alignment.  Findings in this research will elucidate how AMB-1 organizes magnetosomes and will also illumniate the broader topic of how bacterial cells organize their intracellular structures.   

Before joining the Komeili lab, I worked under the supervision of Dr. Susan Lynch at UCSF.  As a Master's student I was interested in the microbiota of human host niches and its association with healthy and diseased states.  In particular, my work interrogated the relationship between bacterial diversity and chronic rhinosinusitis, where I profiled the bacterial communities in healthy and diseased patient populations using culture-independent methodologies.  This led to the identification of a single commensal organism (Corynebacterium tuberculostearicum) whose abundance positively correlated to patient symptom severity.  Moving into a mouse infection model, this finding was further characterized and confirmed clinical findings.  I found that addition of C. tuberculostearicum to antibiotic treated mice increased inflammation in their sinuses.  This effect was ameliorated by the addition of a microbe whose abundance correlated with healthy symptomologies (Lactobacillus sakeii), potentially identifying a theraputic alternative to antibiotic intervention.  

B.A. University of California Santa Cruz, 2003

M.S. San Francisco State University, 2010


Abreu NA, Nagalingam NA, Song Y, Roediger FC, Pletcher SD, Goldberg AN, Lynch SV.  Sinus Microbiome Depletion and Corynebacterium tuberculostearicum enrichment mediates rhinosinusitis.  Science Translational Medicine.  2012 Sep 12;4(151) doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003783.

Roediger FC, Slusher (Abreu) NA, Allgaier S, Cox MJ, Pletcher SD, Goldberg AN, Lynch SV.  Nucleic acid extraction efficiency and bacterial recovery from maxillary sinus mucosal samples obtained by brushing or biopsy.  American Journal Rhinology Allergy. 2010 Jul-Aug;24(4):263-5 doi: 10.2500/ajra.2010.24.3472.

Singh G, Wu B, Baek MS, Camargo A, Nguyen A, Slusher (Abreu) NA, Srinivasan R, Wiener-Kronish JP and Lynch SV.  Pseudomonas aeruginosa Type III Cytotoxin Secretion is Dependent on Pseudomonas Quinolone Signal Concentration.  Microbial Pathogenesis.  2010 Oct;49(4):196-203 doi: 10.1016/j.micpath.2010.05.013.

Fujimura KE, Slusher (Abreu) NA, Cabana MD, and Lynch, SV. Role of the gut microbiome in defining human health. Expert Review Anti Infective Therapy. 2010 Apr;8(4):435-54 doi: 10.1586/eri.10.14.

Thordarson G, Slusher (Abreu) NA, Leong H, Ochoa D, Rajkumar L, Guzman R, Nandi S, and Talamantes F. Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) obliterates the pregnancy-associated protection against mammary carcinogenesis in rats.  Evidence that IGF-I enhances cancer progression through estrogen receptor-alpha activation via the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. Breast Cancer Research. 2004;6(4):R423-36.

Honors & Awards

Robert D. Watkins Graduate Fellowship - American Society for Microbiology, 2013-2016

Mentored Research Award - UC Berkeley, 2012-2013

Chancellor’s Fellowship - UC Berkeley, 2010-2012

CIRM Fellowship - California Istitute for Regenerative Medicine, 2009-2010

Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) Fellowship - NIH, 2008-2009

Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) Fellowship- NIH, 2002-2003