Chris Whitfield

Email Address
[email protected]
Research Description

In my lab we study the cell surface of pathogenic bacteria. When looking at these cell surfaces, we examine both their architecture and the way they assemble. This is important to understand why bacteria are pathogenic and to develop potential new therapeutic strategies to fight bacterial infections.

Research Summary

Research in my laboratory is focused on the architecture and assembly of the cell surfaces of pathogenic bacteria. Complex molecular machines coordinate the synthesis and export of cell-surface macromolecules and our goal is to understand their structure and function. This represents a fascinating challenge for experimental research and involves the application of a range of experimental strategies that span the disciplines of biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, and structural biology. The systems being investigated are of fundamental importance in understanding the physiology and pathogenesis of bacteria and they may yield new therapeutic strategies for intervention in bacterial infections.
Current areas of emphasis are:
1) Structure and function of multi-enzyme complexes required for the export of capsular polysaccharides through the periplasm and across the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria.
2) Structural basis for substrate recognition by ABC transporters involved in the export of bacterial cell-surface polysaccharides.
Structure and function studies of prokaryotic glycosyltransferase enzymes.
3) Mechanisms that couple glycan biosynthesis and chain extension to transport pathways.

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