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Georgia Isom

Investigating proteins that build the outer membrane of antimicrobial resistant bacteria

Molecular mechanisms of bacterial membrane biogenesis

Using structural biology, biochemistry, and microbiology to study the molecular mechanisms by which Gram-negative bacteria build their outer membranes and protect themselves against antibiotics.

Antimicrobial resistant (AMR) micro-organisms cause a major global threat to modern medicine. Gram-negative are particularly difficult to treat, in part because their outer membrane (OM) acts as a barrier against antibiotics. Therefore, it is critical to understand how bacteria build and maintain their OM, potentially allowing for novel therapeutic approaches that disrupt this barrier.

The Gram-negative bacterial cell envelope consists of an inner membrane (IM) and an OM separated by an aqueous periplasmic space. To build and maintain this OM, bacteria must transport lipids and hydrophobic proteins across the aqueous periplasm. Membrane components (such as proteins, phospholipids and lipopolysaccharides) are transported via protein pathways that form shuttles or direct bridges between the IM and OM. We use a combination of structural biology, biochemistry and bacterial genetics to investigate the function of these transport systems