Structural analysis of proteins involved in bacterial cell wall biosynthesis

Antibiotics play an essential role in the treatment of bacterial infections. However, the overuse of antibiotics has resulted in the emergence of numerous drug resistant strains of important human pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE). These, and related bacteria, represent major threats to human health if tools cannot be developed to combat these so called “”superbugs””. Potential targets for the development of these new antibacterial treatments include the enzymes involved in the production of the bacterial cell wall. Robert Gruninger’s research is focused on characterizing distinct aspects of cell-wall biogenesis. By clarifying the three dimensional structure of these enzymes, it will be possible to design drugs that will block their function, and combat the development and spread of “superbugs”.