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James Smith

James Smith
Department of Biology, TAMU

Title: The Discovery of Novel Peptide-Based Antimicrobials


My research focuses on the understanding of the structure and function of natural therapeutic products. Much of what we have learned about protein synthesis, DNA replication, enzyme function, and membrane physiology come from the study of antimicrobials. The structural and functional characterization of new antimicrobial agents will provide new insights into cellular processes and membrane physiology, as well as provide means to rationally design new analogs that target microbial function. This work will provide a foundation for research aimed at understanding their efficacy for use in the treatment and prevention of human and animal diseases. The biosynthesis, mechanism of action, and potential applications for the antibiotics mutacin 1140 and occidiofungin will be covered during my presentation. Mutacin 1140 is a ribosomally synthesized antibiotic that is produced by the Gram-positive oral bacterium Streptococcus mutans JH1140. Mutacin 1140 belongs to the Type A(I) “nisin” group of lantibiotics and has potent inhibitory activity against Gram-positive bacteria. Several analogs of structurally related occidiofungins are produced by the Gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia contaminans MS14. Occidiofungins are cyclic nonribosomally synthesized antifungal peptides with submicromolar fungicidal activity against a broad spectrum of fungi.

Host: Deb Bell-Pedersen