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Sladjana Prišić

Sladjana Prisic

Assistant Professor

Dr. Prisic received her B.Sc. degree in Biochemistry and then Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Belgrade and Iowa State University, respectively. As a graduate student, under guidance of Dr. Reuben Peters, she studied plant terpene cyclases, including structure-function relationship and enzymatic mechanisms of these enzymes. She moved to Boston Children’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School for her postdoctoral training in Microbiology. As Dr. Robert Husson’s mentee, Dr. Prisic studied pathogenesis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis. In particular, she worked on Ser/Thr protein kinases and their targets. Since joining faculty at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in August 2014, she has been focused on mycobacterial adaptation to zinc depletion, the host-pathogen interaction in tuberculosis, and the role of alternative ribosomes in bacteria. As a Principal Investigator, Dr. Prisic has published in high impact journals and has been awarded grants from NIH, NSF, and private foundations, including the prestigious NSF CAREER grant. In addition to being a devoted scientist, Dr. Prisic is passionate about teaching and mentoring, with special emphasis on supporting underserved and underrepresented students at early stages of their education and training.


Courses Taught


MICR 499
MICR 690
MICR 695
MICR 699


BIOL 395
MICR 351
MICR 463
MICR 499
MICR 695
MICR 699

Research Interests

  • Molecular pathogenesis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Alternative ribosomes

Current Research

Molecular pathogenesis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is the deadliest human pathogen, even to this day. Although antituberculars (antibiotics used to treat TB) are available, TB therapy is long and complex. The culprit is a subpopulation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) that resists killing by the host immune system or antibiotics. Better known as an intracellular pathogen, Mtb is also found extracellularly in necrotic lesions (granulomas). This subpopulation is notoriously difficult to eradicate during treatment and their physiology is the big unknown. We hypothesize that zinc ion (Zn2+) limitation is a “secret ingredient”- a simple environmental cue that leads to complex physiological changes in the elusive extracellular Mtb. While intracellular Mtb must cope with a Zn2+ overload, extracellular Mtb released from lysed macrophages into necrotic granulomas has a limited access to this nutrient. Zn2+ sequestration is a part of the host’s nutritional immunity, which is achieved by accumulation of neutrophil derived protein calprotectin. In contrast to many other pathogens, Mtb can overcome this severe Zn2+ depletion. In addition, Mtb can use Zn2+ depletion to signal the release into the extracellular environment and employ various protective mechanisms, including ribosome restructuring (see below). In order to understand how bacterial respond to Zn2+ limitations and their interaction with the host, Dr. Prisic’s group uses classic microbiological techniques, genetic manipulation, microscopy, in vivo and in vitro infection models, and multi-omics analysis of Mtb and other mycobacteria.

Macrophages infectd with red Mtb Fig. 1: Macrophages infectd with red Mtb Multi-omics analysis of mycobacteria Fig. 2: Multi-omics analysis of mycobacteria

Mycobacterial alternative ribosomes

Mtb and many other bacteria, replace Zn2+-dependent ribosomal proteins with Zn2+-independent paralogs to form alternative ribosome when zinc is limited. Therefore, bacteria may use changes in zinc availability as a signal to adjust their physiology to specific environments. In particular, morphogenic programs, including cell wall remodeling triggered by zinc depletion may allow bacteria to survive stresses imposed by their host or shifting environments, as seen in pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria, respectively. Dr. Prisic uses a range of methods to study those regulatory mechanisms, including proteomics, microscopy, flow cytometry, and various in vitro and in vivo phenotypic assays.    Morphology of M.smegmatis lacking alternative ribosomes

Fig. 3: Morphology of M. smegmatis lacking alternative ribosomes

Selected Publications

  1. Tobiasson V#, Dow A#^, Prišić S*, Amunts A Zinc depletion does not intrinsically induce ribosome hibernation in mycobacteria _in press, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 116(7):2395-2397, Feb 12, 2019
  2. Dow A^ and Prišić S* Alternative ribosomal proteins are required for growth and morphogenesis of Mycobacterium smegmatis under zinc limiting conditions PLoS One.13(4):e0196300, Apr 23, 2018
  3. Dow A^ and Prišić S* Displacement-based ELISA: Quantifying Competition between Two Binding Partners for Interaction with a His-tagged Ligand Immobilized on a Ni2+-NTA PlateBio-protocol 6(5): e1745. http://www.bio-protocol.org/e1745 (2016)
  4. Prišić S*, Hwang H, Dow A^, Barnaby O, Pan TS^, Lonzanida JA^, Chazin WJ, Steen H, Husson RN Zinc Regulates a Switch between Primary and Alternative S18 Ribosomal Proteins in Mycobacterium tuberculosis Mol Microbiol 97(2):263-80 Jul 2015

*corresponding author, ^undergraduate or graduate student mentee, # equal contribution

Full list of publications and other information can be find here: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3137-4358

Graduate Students and Postdocs

Allexa Dow (PhD student)
Brandi Antonio (PhD student)
Endrei Marcantonio (PhD student)

The Prisic Lab is looking for ambitious and hardworking graduate students and postdocs. Please contact Dr. Prisic directly, if interested.

Undergraduate Students

Our lab is always open for undergraduate research and training.
Both paid and volunteering opportunities may be available.
Please contact Dr. Prisic with inquiries.


Prisic Lab Photos

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2019-12-17 - Visit to Life Science Building - our future home!
Endrei (G), Michaela (UG), and Sladjana (PI)
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2019-12 - Life Sciences Building
- Expected completion, late spring 2020
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Prisic Lab Spring 2019
top: Allexa (G), Brandi (G), Kevin (UG-UROP), Jeannie (UG)
bottom: Endrei (G), Chelsea (UG), Colby (UG), Jayna (UG), Leslie (UG), Sladjana (PI)
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Prisic Lab Spring 2019
Endrei (G), Jeannie (UG), Allexa (G), Brandi (G), Kevin (UG-UROP), Jayna (UG), Chelsea (UG), Colby (UG), Leslie (UG)
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2018-05-13 - The end of the 2017/18 school year party
From left to right: Endrei, Kevin, Soohan*, Sladjana, Allexa
* Graduated – Congrats Soohan!
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2017-05-14 - The end of the 2016/17 school year party
From left to right: Brandi, Jared, Celeste, Anna*, Sasha, (?), Janey*, Sladjana
* Graduated – Congrats Anna and Janey!
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2017 Spring Prisic lab has 8 undergraduate students:
Mattia, Jared, Janey (UROP), Anna (UROP), and Charissa
Justin, Sasha (UROP), and Cindy are missing from the picture
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2017 Spring Prisic lab has 2 graduate students and a postdoc:
Celeste (postdoctoral fellow), Brandi (graduate student)
Sladjana (PI), and Allexa (graduate student)
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Allexa the Brave with a friendly REAL spider!
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2016-04-23 - The end of the “15/16 school year party
From left to right up: Michael*, Allexa, Sladjana, Tianwen
down: Jae*, Brandi, Brennen, Selma
* Graduated – Congrats Michael and Jae and good luck!
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2015-04-18 - The end of the “14/15 school year party
1-From left to right: Allexa, Sladjana, Jaymes*, Raj, Tenny*
* Graduated – Congrats Jaymes and Tenny and good luck!
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2014-12-13 – Prisic Lab 1st Party!
From left to right: Allexa, Shane*, Tenny, Jaymes, Sladjana
*Graduated – Congrats Shane and good luck!