Grabowicz Lab Breaking through the antibiotic barrier

Probing the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria

The Grabowicz Lab at Emory University School of Medicine is interested in the intrinsic mechanisms of antibiotic resistance that have evolved in Gram-negative bacteria.

Antibiotics have revolutionized medical practice, but mounting antibiotic resistance threatens to reverse these gains. The problem is particularly acute for Gram-negative pathogens.

Gram-negative bacteria build an outer membrane that shields them from antibiotics. This barrier prevents the clinical use of many currently-available antibiotics. Gram-positive bacteria lack such a barrier and are more susceptible to the entry of antibiotics into their cell. In addition to its role as a barrier, the outer membrane is an essential structure. Understanding how the outer membrane barrier is assembled will guide development of new drugs. Such chemicals could become new weapons against infection or could help to pry open the outer membrane to make existing antibiotics more effective.

Our lab aims to uncover the molecular mechanisms of outer membrane assembly and we work to develop new therapeutics that will disrupt these processes. We are particularly interested in how lipid-anchored lipoproteins are delivered to the outer membrane since all of the molecular machines that build the outer membrane require at least one essential lipoprotein component to function.

We use genetic, genomic, and biochemical approaches to discover how bacteria build their outer membrane