Investigating the dynamics of a potential antibiotic target

Problem Title

Investigating the dynamics of a potential antibiotic target

Scientific Title

Spin labeling the aspartate receptor for measurements of structural changes

Meaghan Molloy
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
iCons Concentration: 
iCons Class Year: 
Class of 2015
Executive Summary 

According to the Center for Disease Control, each year in the United States, at least two million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. At least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections. Antibiotics are developed by targeting cellular processes unique to bacteria that are critical for proliferation. Chemotaxis allows bacteria to adjust their behavior in different chemical environments. Disrupting this mechanism could render the bacteria disoriented, unable to acquire all of the nutrients that they need to survive. Aspartate is one of the most effective amino acids in triggering the chemotaxis response.

To better understand the dynamics of the aspartate receptor, a genetically engineered mutant is being functionalized with a spin label at target sites. The spin label being attached has a unique signature in NMR and EPR, and thus will be utilized as a molecular probe. These techniques will uncover more information about the chemical environment at the location of the probe and the dynamics of the protein than is possible by more traditional techniques. Ultimately this project will reveal more about the dynamic structure of this potential antibiotic target.

Problem Keywords: 
antibiotic resistance
Scientific Keywords: 
aspartate receptor
spin labeling