Congratulations to Prize-winner, Dr Christine Lockey
Congratulations go to Dr Christine Lockey, who has been announced as a Faculty Post-Doctoral Research Prize winner for “Best Warwick affiliated research output in 2020”, and whose work brings us closer to outsmarting antibiotic resistant bacteria. Her paper, The Extracellular Domain of Two-component System Sensor Kinase VanS from Streptomyces coelicolor Binds Vancomycin at a Newly Identified Binding Site addresses a key issue in the development of antibiotic treatments: the emergence of resistance in clinically important pathogens.
Dr Lockey’s work offers the first description of the VanS binding site reported in front-line antibiotic, Vancomycin. The site is distinct from the region of the antibiotic which acts upon the bacterial cell to induce cell death (i.e., the Lipid II binding site), demonstrating that VanS is able to bind both free and actively bound vancomycin in the environment. The implications of this finding are significant and suggest that VanS can effectively increase the local concentration of its substrate by binding to two separate populations. Furthermore, since the VanS binding site is distinct, Dr. Lockey has effectively identified a viable target for modification in the antibiotic's structure. Modifications at this site would allow antimicrobial activity to be retained.
Research Group leader, Dr Ann Dixon, said “Dr. Lockey’s work was highly original, thorough and very well-received by editors and referees alike. She is highly deserving of this award in recognition of her fantastic work.”
Dr Christine Lockey commented, “It is very gratifying to have my work recognised by the committee and by the department in this way.”
As well as recognition from the University, Prof. Gerry Wright (McMaster University, Canada) - a pioneer in this field - was amongst the first to congratulate Dr. Lockey on her research findings.