Mechanistic and experimental evolution studies of metallo-beta-lactamases

Pathogenic bacteria, such as P. aeruginosa, E. coli, and K. pneumonia, can cause serious infectious diseases such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and diarrhea. These bacteria are becoming resistant to many of our commonly used antibiotics and have been spreading rapidly over the past decade. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are a serious threat to Canadian and global health, and new strategies are needed to combat them.

Groups of enzymes called beta-lactamases confer antibiotic resistance to the bacteria by allowing them to destroy beta-lactam antibiotics such as penicillin. Moreover, ongoing changes in bacterial beta-lactamase genes in nature are producing more potent enzymes to destroy our newest antibiotics.

Dr. Nobuhiko Tokuriki’s research will study the ways that beta-lactamase enzymes change. His team will combine experiments in the laboratory to identify mechanisms of change with detailed studies of enzyme function so they can develop ways to block their activity. The information obtained in this research will ultimately be used to develop novel, persistent, and sustainable antibiotics and inhibitors against pathogenic bacteria.