Faculty Advisor

Adams, David S.

Project Center

University of Massachusetts Medical Center


Diaminopimelic acid (DAP) is a modified lysine amino acid required for cell wall synthesis in most bacteria. This project's goal was to design a live growth-controllable vaccine using a strain of Y. pestis, the causative agent of plague, lacking the DAP gene to make its growth dependent on exogenous DAP while allowing host immune responses. Y. pestis starvation assays showed that DAP-starved cells cannot revive after 24 hours of starvation, and growth curves showed the minimum exogenous DAP concentration required per cell. Mock skin diffusion experiments showed that DAP diffuses through "skin", sustaining and limiting growth to areas of application. Results suggest that DAP-dependent Y. pestis can be a live vaccine controlled by DAP application.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

April 2011


Biology and Biotechnology

Project Type

Major Qualifying Project



Advisor Department

Biology and Biotechnology

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