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Amy O'Reily




Amy is a a PhD student in the Bugg (Chemistry) and Roper (Life Sciences) groups, funded by the EPSRC as part of the MOAC Doctoral Training Centre.Her undergraduate degree was completed here at Warwick in Biological Sciences with Cell Biology and more infomation can be found within her e-portfolio.

Amy's interest is in the structure and function of proteins in the bacterial cell wall as putative antimicrobial targets. She was awarded a URSS Scholarship to carry out a summer research project in the Roper lab, working on tRNA synthetases and also Mur ligases and completed her dissertation within the same lab on Penicillin-Binding Proteins (E. coli and H. influenza PBP4). During her Masters research project she worked on the enzyme MraY from a variety of species and cloned some E. coli MraY mutants for analysis of their interaction with E peptide.

PhD Research : Exploration and Analysis of Penicillin-Binding Proteins as Synthetic Tools and Targets

Peptidoglycan is a structurally vital component of the bacterial cell wall and its biosynthesis is heavily targeted by antibacterial therapeutics. Resistance mechanisms have evolved naturally in bacteria to evade destruction by antibiotics, which has recently assisted the emergence of nosocomial infections such as MRSA and VRE.This project aims to further investigate the structure and function of Penicillin-Binding Proteins (PBPs) in Gram-negative bacteria, with a focus to develop an assay for the full characterisation of the dual-activity of bifunctional PBPs. The mesh-like structure of peptidoglycan within the cell wall consists of aligned glycan strands, which are cross-linked to each other via a peptide bridge. PBPs have a role in the building and cross-linking of these glycan strands.PBP activity is to be enzymatically characterised using biochemical and biophysical techniques, radio- and fluorescence-labelling and lipid-linked reagent chemistry. Advances in chemical probe and substrate design at Warwick will aid this project, with chemical synthesis being used to harvest compounds required for assays.

A detailed understanding of peptidoglycan synthesis is of immediate interest to the pharmaceutical industry, since it will enable the design and application of novel assays to detect inhibitors of peptidoglycan polymerisation.