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My lab aims to elucidate the mechanism of transporters, flippases, and polymerases involved in bacterial cell wall biosynthesis, unravel how their function influences bacterial adaptation, discover inhibitory molecules for the development of new antimicrobials, and repurpose the activity of these proteins for applications in the synthesis of glycoconjugates.

Our motivation is two-fold:

First, in this era of rapidly diminishing antibiotic efficacy, understanding bacteria intrinsic vulnerabilities is fundamental for antibiotic development. The bacterial cell wall exerts essential protective functions against environmental insults. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of proteins and pathways involved in cell wall synthesis is extremely relevant to reveal the adaptation mechanisms of bacteria and for rational design of drugs. My Lab uses single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), X-ray crystallography, and diverse biochemical/biophysical methods to study the function of cell wall membrane proteins and elucidate their mechanism.

Second, continuing to use antibiotics is not a long-term strategy, as it may favor the selection of more resistant bacterial strains. Vaccines are an effective measure to counteract this growing problem. Among the many different types of vaccines developed during the last two centuries, conjugate-vaccines where bacterial cell wall glycans are covalently coupled to an immunogenic protein carrier, have been shown to promote long-lasting protection against pathogens, even among persons in high-risk groups. However, their synthesis routes are far from trivial. My lab is interested in understanding the mechanism of cell wall membrane proteins, and repurpose their activity to develop tools for the synthesis of new conjugate vaccines.

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