We have discovered that chlorine bleach produced by white blood cells can modify an important regulatory protein in the immune system called macrophage migrati... read more
Inhibiting Menaquinone Biosynthesis and Biofilms in Staphylococcus aureus
New Zealand has among the highest reported incidence of infections with the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus in the developed world. This bug causes a range of infections from common skin infections like boils, school sores and cellulitis, to infections associated with surgical implants like hip replacements, heart, bone and blood infections, toxic shock syndrome and pneumonia. These infections are often recurrent and increasing numbers are being caused by strains like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which are resistant to nearly all known antibiotics.
The ability of the bacteria to persist inside the human body is one of the key drivers for recurrent infections. This is helped by their ability to make biofilms, where they adhere together on a surface. During biofilm formation the bacteria sense a range of environmental cues and interpret these as signals to cluster.
One of these signals is given by a small molecule called Vitamin K2 (menaquinone). This study aims to make inhibitors of the bacterial enzymes that make menaquinone to study how menaquinone affects biofilm formation which will lead to drugs to target and treat S. aureus infections and biofilms.
Dr Johnstons research interests are related to studying the structure and function of proteins, the aim being to obtain a better understanding of key biological questions at level of atoms and molecules.More About Dr Jodie Johnston