Bacterial cell wall synthesis and degradation


  • Prof Waldemar Vollmer

    Newcastle University

Project summary

Professor Vollmer studies the structure and biosynthesis of the bacterial cell wall that protects the cell from bursting due to internal osmotic pressure, and that maintains the cell's specific shape (spherical, rod-shape, helical, etc). Bacterial cell wall synthesis is targeted by important classes of antibiotics, such as the beta-lactams and glycopeptides. Little is known about how bacteria enlarge their cell wall when they are growing and dividing. This research aims to decipher the molecular mechanisms of cell wall growth in Gram-negative bacteria, which have an outer membrane, including the model bacterium Escherichia coli and important pathogens like Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Helicobacter pylori. Professor Vollmer will study the interactions and activities of cell wall synthesising and degrading enzymes, which presumably form dynamic multi-enzyme complexes catalysing cell wall growth. This could lead to new strategies for interfering with bacterial cell wall synthesis, with the potential for the development of novel antibiotics.