Academic Profile

Academic Profile

Assoc Prof Kimberly Kline

Associate Chair (Students), School of Biological Sciences
Assistant Dean (Special Projects), College of Science
Associate Professor
Associate Professor, School of Biological Sciences

Email: kkline@ntu.edu.sg
Assoc Prof Kimberly Kline

Biography
Kimberly Kline earned her BA in Biology from St. Olaf College in Northfield Minnesota, and received an MPH in Biostatistics and Epidemiology and PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Northwestern University in 2005. Kimberly went on as a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in St. Louis and at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm Sweden. During her training, Kimberly was an American Heart Association Fellow and Carl Tryggers Fellow. Kimberly has received multiple awards for her contributions to the field of microbiology, including a NIH K99 Career Development Award in 2011.

In 2011, Kimberly joined Nanyang Technological University in Singapore as an Assistant Professor of Microbiology and a Principal Investigator at the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering, where she leads an international team of 20 research scientists. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2017. Since coming to Singapore, Kline has been the recipient of the Singapore National Research Foundation Fellowship in 2011, the ICAAC Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Microbiology in 2014, and the Nanyang Education Award in 2017.

Research interests in the Kline lab center around 2 themes: 1) molecular mechanisms of cell-wall associated virulence factor assembly in Gram positive pathogens, and 2) pathogenesis of polymicrobial infections, with an emphasis on those involving Enterococcus faecalis. The Kline lab employs a variety of model systems for these studies including in vitro mammalian cell-associated biofilm models, and mouse models of gut colonization, ascending and catheter-associated urinary tract infection, and wound infections.
Research Interests
Enterococci are one of the leading causes of hospital-acquired infections and cause a variety of disease states including endocarditis, bacteremia, meningitis, wound infections, and urinary tract infections. The ability to form biofilms in vivo and in the environment is critical for many enterococcus infections. Enterococcal and other Gram positive infections are increasingly problematic due to the rising prevalence of antibiotic resistance. Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) are of particular concern in hospital settings. Enterococcus faecalis can also share antibiotic resistance genes with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) resulting in bacterial infections that are exceptionally difficult to treat. Therefore, discovering new strategies to combat infections caused by these organisms is of utmost importance.

E. faecalis must interact with other bacteria to transfer genetic material and with host cells to cause disease, and utilize extracellular proteins and polymers (pili) to mediate these processes. Thus, understanding protein secretion and the pathways that assemble and attach the extracellular proteins to the cell surface promotes our understanding of pathogenesis. We previously demonstrated that several E. faecalis surface proteins are secreted, polymerized, and anchored to the cell wall at distinct focal sites on the bacterial surface. Using a combination of genetics, genomics, biochemistry, and imaging, we are exploring the molecular mechanisms that dictate site selection, organization, and maintenance of localized virulence factor assembly sites in bacteria. We integrate studies of basic cellular processes with in vivo infection models to assess the contribution of localized surface structure biogenesis to disease progression. We have developed several urinary tract infection models to study the pathogenesis of Gram positive organisms. These and other models enable the study of in vivo biofilm formation, infection dynamics, and the host response.

Collectively, we assess the functional consequence of perturbing virulence factor production at the single cell level, the bacterial population level, and in models of disease. The overarching goal of these studies is to understand new aspects of fundamental biological processes and to identify novel anti-infective and therapeutic targets.
Current Projects
  • A Molecular Blueprint For Iron Sensing In Enterococcal Pathogenesis
  • College Appreciation Fund
  • Designed Short Cyclic Peptides As Antibiotics Potentiator And Wound Healing Platform Against Drug Resistant Gram Negative Bacteria
  • Development of an Infection-Resistant Urinary Catheter Functionalized by Antimicrobial Peptides
  • Imaging the metabolomic biogeography of biofilm-associated wound infection
  • Investigating the Role of HtrA Protease in Antimicrobial-Resistant Gram-Positive Infections
  • Localized Virulence Factor Assembly in Gram Positive Bacteria: Mechanism of Coordination and Therapeutic Targeting
  • Manipulation Of Innate Immune Response By Mucosal BacterialPathogens
  • Mechanisms Of Group A Streptococcus Biofilm Formation On Mammalian Cells
  • Mechanisms of Enterococcal Niche Modulation during Polymicrobial Infection
  • Selective contact-active antimicrobial bio-macromolecules
  • The Cell Biology of Enterococcus faecalis Infection
  • The roles of Enterrococcus Faecalis Anionic Phospholipids, Glycolipids and Polyisoprenoid Lipids in Membrane Microdomains and Antibiotic Susceptibility
Selected Publications
  • Vajjala A, Biswas D, Tay WH, Hanski E, Kline KA. (2019). Streptolysin-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress promotes group A streptococcal in vivo biofilm formation and necrotizing fasciitis. Cellular Microbiology, .
  • Ch’ng JH, Chong KKL, Lam LN, Wong JJ, Kline KA. (2019). Biofilm-associated infection by Enterococci. Nature Reviews Microbiology. Nature Reviews. Microbiology, .
  • Antonoplis AS, Huttner MA, Zang X, Chong KKL, Bin LY, Co J, Amieva MR, Kline KA, Wender PA, Cegelski L. (2018). Vancomycin coupled to a GR-MoTr exhibits new activity and efficacy against clinically important MRSA biofilms and persister cells. Journal of the American Chemical Society, .
  • Afonina I, Lim XN, Tan R, Kline KA. (2018). Planktonic interference and biofilm alliance between aggregation substance and endocarditis and biofilm associated pili in Enterococcus faecalis.. Journal of Bacteriology , .
  • Lim K, Saravanan R, Chong KKL, Goh SHM, Chua RRY, Tambyah PA, Chang MW, Kline KA, Leong SSJ. (2018). Anhydrous polymer-based catheter coating with sustainable controlled release functionality for facile, efficacious impregnation and delivery of antimicrobial peptide. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, .

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