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surface polymer
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Images showing fluorescently labeled components of the pneumococcal cell envelope

Regulation of cell surface polymer biogenesis in bacteria


We use interdisciplinary approaches to genetically, biochemically, and structurally characterize the regulatory networks that control cell envelope biogenesis in bacterial pathogens. We aim to determine how these pathways are corrupted to cause cell death or evolve to cause antibiotic resistance.  


We focus on defining the regulatory networks that control cell envelope biogenesis in bacteria and use biochemical and cell biological strategies toward the discovery and characterization of novel antibacterials.   


Molecular dissection of signal transduction pathways

in Streptococcus pneumoniae


We are currently molecularly and biochemically characterizing various signaling networks that control cell envelope biogenesis to understand how antibiotics disrupt these pathways,

with the goal of revealing novel targets for antibiotic development. 

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Top: Blood plate depicting the importance for growth of a signal transduction system
Bottom: Cells containing a fluorescent reporter for an essential pneumococcal signal transduction system


Regulation of protein degradation and its effects on bacterial physiology


Our initial characterization of the mode-of-action of some cell envelope targeting drugs revealed a quality-control function for some proteases. We are using a wide variety of approaches to understand the physiological function of these enzymes, and to discern how antibiotics short-circuit their regulation to kill cells.  

Western blot of a pneumococcal protein degraded over time

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Discovery of novel antibiotics and antibacterial targets

Our discovery of novel, essential enzymes that tailor the bacterial cell envelope provides our lab the framework to not only study basic mechanisms of cell envelope assembly but to also discover and design novel ways of inhibiting these biochemical pathways to treat bacterial infections.


Host pathogen and interbacterial interactions

We aim to understand at the molecular level the factors used by S. pneumoniae to colonize and cause a productive infection in the host, and the factors that govern interspecies interaction between it and other bacteria that reside in the respiratory tract.

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