But I didn't get to relax because I headed off to Chicago on Monday morning to give a talk at Northwestern School of Medicine. I learned lots of interesting things in my talks with various faculty and students. One was something I should have considered for the proposal. It discussed the problem of fitting DNA through the narrow secretin pore in the outer membrane, especially if the DNA has to share the pore with a type IV pilus. The same pore is used to pass proteins out of the cell, and the same size problem arises - some of the proteins are probably too big to fit through the pore. So maybe we're wrong in attributing to the pore the size it appears to be when purified - maybe it's stretchy. Another particularly interesting thing was some unexpected properties of the DNA uptake specificity of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. I won't spell them out because they're not published yet, but we'll want to do some experiments to see if the same things happen in H. influenzae.
Now it's time for some careful thinking about what to try to get done in the next 6 months. I plan to submit a proposal to NIH in early February, and we need to obtain preliminary data. So we need to decide what data will be the most compelling. I also want to be prepared with more preliminary data in case CIHR rejects our DNA uptake proposal - that would need to be resubmitted by March 1. Some of the data we'd be getting for NIH will also be good for CIHR, but others will be different. And I need to get the US-variation manuscript finished. As I recall, I need to run some more simulations and then the former post-doc and I need to finish the writing.