Our lab is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in how bacterial cells grow and divide. We have taken a combination of molecular genetics, biochemical and biophysical approaches in addressing basic questions in this area.

Our research is currently supported by:

MCB 2216676

Regulation of FtsZ assembly during bacterial cytokinesis

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In most bacteria, cytokinesis is initiated at midcell by a dynamic ring formed by the tubulin-homolog, FtsZ, called the Z-ring. The Z-ring establishes the division site and creates an essential framework for the recruitment of a multi-protein division machinery at midcell. Furthermore, treadmilling FtsZ filaments contribute to cell wall synthesis around the division plane. A number of proteins bind FtsZ and regulate the architectural stability of the Z-ring during the bacterial cell cycle.  Yet the precise molecular interactions of the FtsZ-associated proteins with FtsZ that allow the formation of a stable yet dynamic Z-ring at midcell are not completely understood. Using E. coli, we aim to address the underlying mechanisms that govern the robustness of  cell division.

Molecular mechanisms of the maintenance of bacterial cell envelope integrity

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The Gram-negative bacterial cell envelope is a complex double membraned structure that plays an essential role in maintaining cellular integrity. The outer membrane serves as a formidable barrier to various environmental toxins and antibiotics. The inner (cytoplasmic) membrane serves as the primary site of critical membrane related functions such as protein secretion, lipid and peptidoglycan biogenesis, and energy production. Molecular events that take place at the inner membrane, therefore, play critical roles in overall envelope biogenesis processes. Our group has recently uncovered the synergistic role of two cytoplasmic membrane proteins in the maintenance of cell membrane integrity. Broadly, by identifying and characterizing previously unknown essential pathways important for envelope biogenesis, we expect our fundamental studies to have important implications in the development of novel antibacterials.